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                                                CORVIN CIRCLE – 1956



                                         Gergely Pongrátz











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November 5 - 10

The Last Days


What has come out since then.








            On September 12, 1981, some friends of mine in Chicago invited me to give a presentation on the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and the events which took place around Corvin Circle in Budapest.  I accepted their invitation with especial pleasure because it was the first time that the Commander-in-Chief of the Corvinists had been invited to speak in place of the President of the World Federation of Freedom Fighters.  After twenty-five years of silence, this was the first chance that I had been given to bring to light the details of the Freedom Fight around Corvin Circle in 1956, and to tell of the role that the Corvinists played in the Hungarian Revolution.


            The reason for my twenty-five years of silence is simple.  In 1957, I wanted to publicize the events of which I have written in my book.  However, Béla Király, who was at that time the President of the World Federation of Freedom Fighters, dissuaded me from my plans and his reasons were justified.  He said to me:


            “Gergely, with the Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight, we became recognized all over the world.  We must not ruin this recognition by revealing the incidents about which you want to speak.  Wait. It is not yet time to bring to light the whole truth.  Don’t forget, either, that the Communist dictatorship at home could retaliate with more strength against the Hungarian people and our comrades who remain at home.  The true story of these events must be brought out, but not now.  Within a few years, the time will come.”


            In 1957, Béla Király was right and, even though it was very difficult, I kept quiet.  Others, however, took advantage of my silence.  Books, essays and newspaper articles appeared which revealed to the public the exact opposite of the truth about those events.  The propagandists of the Communist dictatorship brainwashed the public by living as writers and historians in the West.  Here is an example:


            During the summer of 1968, I lived in Madrid, where Dr. Péter Gosztonyi, a historian, visited me  and spoke with me in the course of three days about Corvin Circle and the Hungarian Revolution.  He interviewed me and took notes on what I said.  He promised that, before he published the article, he would send it to me for my approval.  He kept his word and sent it before the end of September.  I replied immediately that I did not want my name included in this article because he had not only omitted the most important facts that I had related to him but he had also distorted my words, lying to the reader.  He wanted to express his ideas, using my name and I did not want my name endorsing a publication of lies.


            Péter Gosztonyi replied, informing me that his article was already at the printer’s and that it was too late to stop its publication.  The article appeared in the November-December issue, 1968, of the Új Látohatár (New Horizon).  In order to make a good impression on the reader, it was entitled “DOCUMENT. Corvin Circle in 1956.  Interview with Gergely Pongrátz.”


            Briefly, Gosztonyi should have recorded what I told him.  He justified his deletion of the most important parts by saying that he would write about the details later.  At that time, it was inopportune.


            For many people, there never was and never will be an opportune time to publish certain parts of my book.  For the people of Corvin, Széna Square, Baross Square and for all those who risked their lives for the Hungarian Revolution, these events have never lost their timeliness.  We have already been living with these memories for twenty-six years.[1]  Writers have either distorted the facts or have neglected to question the Freedom Fighters.


            My speech in Chicago, which took place in the Golden Bull, a beautiful restaurant owned by my friend József Bocskay, captured my new friends as well as my old comrades.  István Harmath, whose library includes almost every book which was written on the subject of the Hungarian Revolution and the Freedom Fight, was a great influence on me.  He compared my speech to cigarette smoke, which affects nearby non-smokers for a few minutes until it disperses throughout the room and no-one thinks about it any more.  However, if I write my story in the form of a book, it becomes history.  I owe this to posterity and to Hungarian history.


            István Harmath’s words bothered me for weeks and always returned to my thoughts.  I started writing and then gave up.  I knew that my friend was perfectly right.  I also knew that only the elected Commander-in-Chief of the Corvinists, who had actually lived through the events which will be described in my book, could accurately record them with historical faithfulness and bring them to light.


            The twenty-fifth anniversary of the Revolution has come and gone and, within those twenty-five years, the lies that have accumulated and the falsified history have left me saddened.  I felt that, with my silence, I also participated in the brainwashing and rewriting of the history of the Hungarian Revolution.


            Writing is so foreign to me that I have even lost contact with my friends by neglecting to reply to their letters.  This, however, is more than just keeping in touch with old friends or comrades.  I am writing not only because, after twenty-five years, it is due time to bring the facts to light, but also because I consider it a sin and treason to hold onto these memories and take them with me to my grave.  It also occurred to me that maybe God spared my life in 1956 because one task still remained, the writing and publishing of this book.


            Therefore, I set about writing again and decided that I would record the events as well as I could.  This was a huge financial sacrifice because, for one year, I could do nothing but write and prepare the book for publication.  Reliving the events after twenty-five years was even more difficult than raising money.  Some parts took a long time to record because, for days, even weeks, my vision was blurred by my tears.  I am not ashamed to admit that I cried a great deal.  Thank God, I am past that now.


            I cannot neglect to thank my friends, comrades and brothers for their moral and financial support.  The telephone rang many times at midnight with calls from friends in various American cities including New York, Albany, Buffalo and Chicago, offering support and encouragement.  One of my comrades, to whom I brought up the financial problems of publishing the book, said, “Gergely, even if I have to take off my hat and stand on the street corner begging, we shall succeed in collecting the money necessary for the publication.  Don’t worry about it.”


            Feri Csongor, another friend of mine, called me one Sunday morning and we had the following conversation:


            “Gergely, I hear that you are writing your book.  Is it true?”

            “It is true,”  I replied.

            “The first book is mine!  I’ll pay one thousand dollars for it.”

            “Feri, I don’t know the exact cost yet, but I am estimating about $18.00 a book.”

            “Fine! I’ll pay $18.00 for the book and you can take the rest as a donation.”


            I tried unsuccessfully to obtain several books and essays which Kádár’s[2] propagandists had published in Hungary.  Finally, I asked Béla Király’s help and he promised that within one or two weeks he would send the material.  It arrived three days later.


            Péter Gosztonyi sent a complimentary copy of his book, written in 1981, entitled: A magyar forradalom története (The History of the Hungarian Revolution).  When I thanked him for his book, I told him that I was diligently working on a book about Corvin Circle, which I would like to finish by the twenty-sixth anniversary of the Revolution.  Despite our political differences, we began to correspond.  I received a great deal of information from him which I was able to use in my book.  Thank you, Péter!


            I also thank the proofreaders of my handwritten manuscript for volunteering many weeks to help me.  I made their work doubly hard because I did not allow them to change any of my written work.  Pista and Feri, God bless you for your work!  You are my literary comrades-in-arms.  For your deeds, I am promoting you to honorary Corvinists!


            I am also taking this opportunity to thank all my friends, especially Béla Szilágyi, Pista Frank, Mária Bohacsek, Klára Mihály and József Bocskay for their moral and financial support.


                My principal reason for writing the story of Corvin Circle and the part it played in the Hungarian Revolution is to provide material and a starting point for future historians who must separate the truth from the lies by untangling a ball of yarn.  The time will come when unprejudiced people will want to uncover the true history of the Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight of 1956.  The judges of the people’s court will want to record this story on the basis of people’s testimonies and the literature of the Revolution.  It is for this time that I want these people to have a testimony written by a Freedom Fighter himself.  Now I must emphasize the term “Freedom Fighter”!  I cannot claim to be unbiased because this would be impossible.  I took part in battles in which dozens of my comrades died daily at my side, sacrificing their lives for their country.  This fact explains and justifies my biased view of the spirit of the Revolution and the memories of the heroic deaths of my comrades.  I am not a diplomat, who can describe an event with sweet but empty words in a roundabout fashion.  This was not even my intention!  I wanted to avoid the possibility of describing something only partially.  I hope that I have reached this goal.


            I know that, after reading this book, many of my compatriots and possibly some Western politicians will be touched by it.  There is much more to this book than politics.  The heroic deaths of my comrades are not political events of the past to me but are still sorrowful, sad truths.  Several people who have read my original work have asked me to change and soften the part about Maléter[3] because he was killed by János Kádár’s executioners.  With his death, Maléter paid for all of his criminal acts against us.


            My answer was the following: At the beginning of November, 1956, on the initiative of Second Lieutenant Péter Gosztonyi, who performed his duties at the Kilián Barracks, Maléter heroically entered the Revolution and was made a martyr after his execution.  Maléter, however, was neither a hero of the Revolution nor a martyr.  I am doing my utmost to prove this and I hope that, in the future, unbiased historians will find more proof.  Maléter’s execution does not in itself make him a martyr because death alone does not make a martyr.  A martyr is someone who gives up his life for his ideals and beliefs.  Maléter did not die for the ideals of the Revolution.  On the contrary, he sacrificed himself for his career, wishing to give himself a better name.


            My introduction to the book may also touch the reader.  Several people have called my attention to this part too, asking me not to be so harsh.  In this case, one question arises.  Who is the guilty one, he who committed the crime or he who publicized it?  I have done no more than put together the scattered mosaic pieces to form a whole picture, which is important because, besides showing the cause of the failure of the Revolution, it disproves the false facts about the Revolution which were attributed to it at Köztársaság Square, (Republic Square), during the second Soviet intervention.


            I know that my book will not win a Nobel Prize for Literature but this was not my goal.  However, by describing the incidents bluntly, I hope that I will put a stop to those who are trying to distort the history of the Hungarian Revolution and desecrate the memories of my fallen comrades!  My guiding principle is to write the truth and nothing else, even if it hurts.  I would just like to remind anyone who is bothered by the truth that the ancient Hungarian proverb says: It is easier to catch a liar than to catch a lame dog.  Therefore, let there be no more lies.

                                                                                                            October 23, 1982






            In the past twenty-five years, many books and articles have been written about the Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight of 1956.  This is not difficult to believe because the events provide many writers with a topic worthy of their attention.  These books and articles, however, differ greatly from each other because each writer tries to introduce his own political views to the reader.  The following theory appears to be true: History does not exist, only historians.  On this basis, historians have the power to distort and falsify events.  In addition to this, those who wrote those books and articles obviously did not take part in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 or, if they did, they were fighting on the other side.


            My comrades and friends have been asking me for some time now to write this book.  I have also received a letter asking me not to write about Corvin Circle and the Hungarian Revolution from a “Hungarian-centered” viewpoint.  The subject itself calls for such treatment.


            The military and political significance of the Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight can only be fully assessed in the light of history.  As can be seen by the events of the past twenty-five years, the effects of the Revolution have already influenced the fate of several nations in the world.  It has had as much significance as a bolt of lightning which has struck mankind from a clear sky.  It was one of the most outstanding moments in the history of the twentieth century.


            The Revolution of 1956 was the first in which weapons were used against a Communist regime.  Because of this, when the time comes for historians to pinpoint the date and place of the beginning of the failure of Communism, they will be obliged to mention October 23, 1956 as the date, and Hungary as the place.  The youth of Hungary made history, more exactly, World History.


            The Hungarian Revolution of 1956, in a short five-day span, destroyed the Communist armed forces and the Russian occupying force which, with tanks, ensured the existence of this inhuman regime in Hungary.  The first weapons in the hands of the youths were pocket-knives which they pressed into the backs of the Secret Police saying, “Give me your pistol or I’ll use my pocket-knife!”  Because they had no other weapons, they threw rocks onto the T-34 tanks which rolled into Budapest.  We, the youths of Budapest, started the Revolution against a world power before which the whole world trembled and still trembles.


            That was just the first step, the beginning.  The enemy was comprised of the Soviet occupying troops and the armed forces which were in the hands of the AVH (Secret police), who had an abundance of weapons.  The armories of the state were full of weapons; we just had to obtain them.  With the resourcefulness characteristic of Hungarian youths, we used, for our own defense, the weapons with which the Russians intended to attack us.  Young boys obtained weapons from the enemy or from the storehouses and, during the enemy attack, they said, “If you don’t have a weapon, wait; the enemy will bring some.”  And they did!  From the T-34 tanks to the 9 mm. pistols, all kinds of weapons were brought to us.  They even brought ammunition, in such quantities that we not only won the Revolution but, in Corvin Circle alone, we had seven truckloads of ammunition left over, which were later taken away.(1)  The Russian occupying forces supplied us with adequate quantities of weapons and ammunition.


            David overcame Goliath but it was Goliath who brought David the stone which caused the mortal injury.  During those five days, the Hungarian youths achieved unimaginable results.  They overturned the existing social system.  The Revolution which began on October 23 against the Communist dictatorship, by October 28 was successful.


            The existing social system was overthrown and the Soviet Government sent two of their most trusted men to Budapest to save whatever was salvageable, to try to keep Hungary, if not as a brother-nation, at least as a friend to the Soviet Union.  These two envoys were Mikoyan and Szuszlov.  Mikoyan, the Soviet Foreign Minister, a cunning Armenian, was the most intelligent man in the Soviet Union at that time.  On October 30, at the Parliament Building, when Mikoyan met Sándor Kopácsi, Colonel of the Budapest Police, who the following day became the assistant to Béla Király, the Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard, he said, with tears in his eyes, “We now have to leave your country.  I ask you to help Comrade Imre Nagy[4] as much as possible.” (2)


            Moreover, the announcement of the Soviet Government emphasized the success of the five-day Revolution: “The events indicate that the Hungarian workers, who have achieved progress worth mentioning within the People’s Democracy, have rightfully addressed the question of the elimination of serious errors in the economic communication between Hungary and the Soviet Union, the improvement of the standard of living and the fight against increasing bureaucracy in the government . . . The Soviet Government, along with the entire Soviet nation, deeply regrets that the events in Hungary have resulted in bloodshed.”


            The Soviet Government kept in mind that the retention of the Soviet troops in Hungary would only intensify the situation.  The commanders were issued orders to withdraw the Soviet troops from Budapest as soon as the Hungarian Government approved their withdrawal.  At the same time, the Soviet Government was ready to negotiate with the Government of the People’s Republic of Hungary and with the other Warsaw Pact nations about the retention of the Soviet troops in Hungary. (3)


            So the dictatorship, which had been forcefully imposed onto the Hungarian nation by the Soviets, began to decline.  As rats flee a sinking ship, the Hungarian rats fled from the Soviet ship, toward the end of October.


            “The Soviet tanks took Ernő Gerő, András Hegedűs, László Piros, István Bata and others, along with their families, to the Soviet military base in the Tököl district of Budapest.  On that same afternoon, they were flown to Moscow as temporary emigrants.” (4)


            “On November 2, two well-known, active Communists, Andor Berei, the President of the Central Planning Board and his wife, Erzsébet Andics, a historian, asked to be protected by the National Guard.  They both felt threatened by their neighbors in their home in Budapest.  Therefore, they asked the National Guard to escort them to the Chief of Police.  There, the couple showed their passports to prove that they were not Hungarian but Soviet citizens.  Because of this, they were treated as foreigners.  The police accepted their plea and the couple was escorted to the Soviet Embassy on Bajza Street in order to prepare for ‘their journey home’, in the security of the Embassy.” (5)


            As a member of the Revolutionary Arms Committee, my older brother, Ödön, was present when this scene took place.  He cursed them, wishing that the ground that was soaked with the blood of Hungarians would burn their feet with every step they took.


            At the request of the Prime Minister, Imre Nagy, the Soviet troops left Budapest on October 29 and negotiations began concerning the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Hungary.  The new Hungarian government disbanded the AVH and instituted the National Guard to maintain order.  After the victorious Revolution, the work of re-establishing law and order proceeded as if by a miracle.  Within a few days, order was completely restored in the capital city.  The revolutionaries were organized into companies and regiments and, from among themselves, they chose their own leaders.


            We created a new, more beautiful and happier Hungary.  We did not want to bring back from the past just any aspect of the social system but rather, we wanted to select everything that would serve the interest of the nation.  We wanted to establish Socialism in its full meaning, in its original form.  We wanted to create a socialist Hungary in which all means of production, except for the mines and the banks, would be handed over from governmental ownership into private hands.  The worker would be a “shareholder” in the factory or industry in which he worked.  The profits would be divided among the workers, according to their skill and production levels.  We would have respect for personal property and private enterprise which would be limited.  The labor-councils, whose members would be selected by the workers themselves, would take over the role of the trade-unions.  This selection process would not serve the interests of the Communist Party, as trade unions do in Communist countries, but it would benefit the workers.  The workers, except those in the mines and the banks, would support the state.  Every factory and business would pay a certain percentage of tax, before dividing the profits among the workers.  In a Communist or State Capitalist system, the reverse is true.  The people get a small percentage, while the government receives the majority.  Communism starves the people.   If anyone dares to speak out, he is detained, deported or imprisoned on a charge of incitement or else simply hanged to silence him forever.


            The existence of several political parties would ensure that only someone who enjoyed the trust of the majority of the people would be elected to a governmental position.  Those elected would serve the interests of the people and would know that they were elected to their positions by the nation.  They would make use of their power and would not take advantage of the people, as did the existing regime.  We wanted to prevent representatives of a foreign power from governing only in their own interests and appointing their own advisors.  In Communist Hungary, these advisors knew that they could exercise their power only as long as the foreign rulers allowed them to do so.  For this reason, they served their rulers to the fullest extent.  They instituted a system, governed by terror,  in which the people had only duties.  The state had all the rights and it constantly abused them.  Although there was no choice, there was voting.  The voters could vote for only one person.  This, too, was required of them.  As a result, the elections were won by 99.6% of the people’s votes.  It is a fact that 95% of the populace did not want to vote because they opposed the foreign regime but the government did not even care.  The regime emphasized the “People’s Democracy” but, at the same time, they people had to be silent.  Those who spoke up were imprisoned or hanged as fascists, chauvinists, war instigators, spies, enemies of the nation and countless other similar charges.  Dissidents who dared to speak out in support of their country were eliminated.  Those who were lucky were only imprisoned.  The charges were recorded on their records and they were denied their political freedom.  This was the sad truth.  The Communist propaganda does not mention how many people were imprisoned or hanged after 1945, on the basis of such charges.  It broadcasts to the whole world the percentage of previously convicted elements who took part in Corvin Circle or other revolutionary centers.  These so-called criminals worked for the Hungarian cause.  It was to their merit and not their shame that they defended their people and their country.


            Freedom of speech was reserved for those who supported that inhuman system and the interest of foreign powers, and who were waiting for the  “revival from the East”.  At the very beginning, the Party did not take into account the background of these people, as long as they were supporters of the regime.  Later, after the regime had educated a new generation of leaders, these early supporters were also dismissed from their positions.  These dismissals occurred because of their past crimes or because they did not pull the carriage of Communism strongly enough.  They ended up in prisons or unmarked graves and suffered the same fate as was accorded the most courageous and patriotic Hungarians.  In the interest of their own careers, they sold their own people and they deserve their fate.   The newly-educated party leaders took over their roles and fulfilled their duties.  Among these political leaders were some who, in spite of the brainwashing and the lies, still sensed the bitterness of the people.  If they said anything about it, there were still plenty of prisons and ropes.  They too would be imprisoned or hanged.  Those who wanted to keep their positions had to proceed like a locomotive on the tracks of Communism from which they were not allowed to be side-tracked.


            These circumstances prepared the Revolution of 1956.  This cannot be disputed either by János Kádár or by his agents, at home or abroad.  If we read the demands of the students, we see the answer to these problems.  The students summed up the demands of the Hungarian nation in sixteen points which they intended to read on the radio, to make them known to the whole nation.  The Government, however, had to stop them because the 16 points meant sure death to the Communist regime.  When the political police at the radio station (which the regime called: “the arm of power”) fired their guns, the first shots of the Revolution rang out.  They received an answer from the whole Hungarian nation, from the 95% who did not want to vote but who were forced to and for whom, on the last day of October, 1956, the time came to “vote freely”.  They voted so loudly that the whole world heard.


            The world leaders were not pleased with what was happening in Hungary.  If the Hungarian Revolution were successful and a true socialism were established, that would not serve the interests of the world leaders.  Perhaps they were rightfully afraid that the spirit of the “Hungarian October” would be an example to the rest of the world.  They sentenced it to death, for it could have changed the political structure of the world.  Their beautiful big words, the amazement and acknowledgment they gave to the Hungarian youth were only a cover under which they could perform their executioner’s work.  On November 4, this execution was accomplished.  Such things happened of which nobody talks or, if they do, the facts are distorted, the truth falsified by agents and agencies which belong to certain political groups or economic interests.  This brainwashing is particularly successful in countries which love freedom.


            The Iron Curtain was not created by the Soviets but was established in Yalta and Teheran, in spite of Churchill’s objections, by Stalin and Roosevelt.  When General Patton received the order to stop at this demarcation line with his army and allow the Red Army to approach this line, he resisted.  He said that a soldier’s duty is to defeat the enemy while he is in front of him.  This is why one of the most outstanding generals of the Second World War was murdered.  For the Creation of the Iron Curtain, in the first place, we can thank Roosevelt who always wanted to please Stalin.  With this decision, the world leaders divided the world and kept a balance of power.  The success of the Hungarian Freedom Fight threatened that balance of power because the Hungarian example would be followed by the other enslaved nations who also wanted to shake off their chains.  The world leaders were afraid that this would happen, so they sentenced to death the already victorious Hungarian Revolution.


            When the world press, in the last days of October, 1956, wrote about the Hungarian heroes, the freedom of the Hungarian nation and the revolutionary power which formed history, they used big, eloquent words.  They praised the Freedom Fighters and the ideals for which the Hungarian youths sacrificed themselves.  They could not send help because it would have endangered world peace and caused World War III.  They told this lie to the world, first of all to the American people, whose military power was still feared by the Soviets.  The extent of their fear is demonstrated by János Radványi, Hungarian Consul to America (1962-1967), in his memoirs: Hungary and the Superpowers ; The Hungarian Revolution and Realpolitics:


            “The outbreak of the Revolution not only surprised Khrushchev but, in a sense, caused him to panic.  The expected reaction of America was of the utmost concern.  In Moscow, the outspoken statements of former presidents and foreign ministers were well known.  They promised help and support to the Iron Curtain nations if those nations took the first step in the interest of their own freedom!


            “This ‘first step’ was taken on the streets of Budapest!  Would the United States take the next step, that is military intervention?” (6)


            It would be ludicrous to believe that only the heroism and self-sacrifice of the boys and girls of Budapest forced the Soviet Communist Party Central Leadership (Politburo), in the Kremlin, to give concessions which Mikoyan and Szuszlov expressed in person, and which were promised by the Soviet Government in the afore-mentioned statement, ensuring the Hungarian nation’s freedom and independence.  The Soviet Government announcement was made because the Soviet Government was afraid of American military intervention.  Since the end of World War II., the Russians had been preparing for World War III. but they were not yet ready.  They would rather have given up Hungary than make a hasty decision and, because of Hungary, become involved in World War III.  That would have been the end of Soviet Communism.


            The events which occurred after November 4 indicate how small a problem the Hungarian Revolutionaries were to the Soviet Government.  Actually, in a few days, the Soviets ended the Hungarian Revolution and did not consider the cost.  The revolutionaries defeated the AVH in vain, and in vain they defeated the Soviet units stationed in Hungary.  Naturally, they were not able to defeat the Red Army because that involved power rather than bravery.


            The American Foreign Minister provided the opportunity for the Soviet steam-roller to roll, by sending a telegram to his ambassador in Moscow, about which both East and West wish to be silent.  Charles Bohlen was just as late with the announcement of this telegram as were the Japanese with the declaration of war against America in 1941.  When the American Ambassador in Russia managed to inform the Soviet leadership of the text of the telegram, the Soviet Government’s statement to Hungary had already been announced.  With this telegram, the Americans assured the Soviet Government: “The Government of the United States does not regard Hungary or any of the members of the Soviet Bloc as a potential military alliance.” (7)


            This telegram united the opinions of the Russian leaders in the Politburo which, according to Khrushchev’s repeated admissions, had been divided and it was because of this division of opinion that the Russian statement to Hungary was announced.  From this point on, the Soviets did not need to fear the American military power because this telegram and the United States Ambassador assured them that whatever they did with Hungary was of no interest to the United States.  This was decided by the highest authorities in the United States.


            In the Soviet Communist Party, there were still some who did not believe the text of the telegram.  They still had to be convinced.  They were expecting some trap.  They did not want to believe that the United States would throw Hungary as prey to the wolves, and if so, why?  They tried to find an answer but could find no explanation.


            They made preparations.  Two hundred thousand soldiers and three thousand tanks were enough to control the situation in Hungary.  They waited.  For what?


            The American Foreign Ministry must have known that, on November 2, Malenkov and Khrushchev would be in Yugoslavia with Tito.  The Yugoslavs were also anxiously and impatiently awaiting the Soviet attack.  The Americans sent a second telegram to Tito to gain time and to reassure the Soviet leadership that the first telegram which the American Ambassador had forwarded was not a mistake and not a trap.  They were not worried about Hungary but they were worried about the unity of the Soviet Bloc which had to stay intact.  The telegram stated, “The Government of the United States does not look with favor upon those governments which are on unfriendly terms with the Soviet Union. . .” (8)


            Khrushchev told Tito that, in one or two days, they would settle the matter.  At dawn on November 4, the Red elephant did not step on a flea but on a viper.  The Soviet military leadership did not count on the resistance which confronted them.  The youths of Budapest remained alone again and fought the Freedom Fight to the end, the majority of them willing to die rather than to live in slavery.


            The American government and the world press never publicized the texts of the above telegrams, the events which precipitated these telegrams or the reasons for sending them.  They lied to the American people and to the freedom-loving peoples of the world.  They also successfully accomplished the brainwashing of those peoples.


            It would seem that there was no end to the impudence and effrontery, even in America.  After all this, on November 14, while the Corvinists were still fighting against the Russian soldiers on the streets of Budapest, President Eisenhower, at a press conference at the White House, made the following statement: “From the depths of our hearts, we sympathize with the Hungarians and we have done everything possible to relieve the suffering.  But the Government of the United States does not advise and never did advise that a defenseless population begin an open revolution against a power which is impossible for them to defeat.” (9)


            The twenty-five years[5] since the bloody suppression of the Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight prove that the world press lied in publishing that statement.  If this statement is true, it applies only to the anti-Communist revolutions.  If a Communist revolution breaks out anywhere in the world, it receives the support of the American Foreign Ministry.  For example, scarcely two years after the Hungarian Revolution, the same United States Government, the same Foreign Ministry employees, with the act of withdrawing their support of Battista, helped Fidel Castro into power, although since 1947, they had known he was a Communist.  He also began his presidency with Soviet methods which later, with the acknowledgment of the American Foreign Ministry, were used in Iran, Afghanistan and other countries throughout the world.  All the political rivals were imprisoned and executed.


            The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was a good lesson to the world leaders but it would seem that they did not learn anything from it.  With their betrayal of the Hungarian people and their imposition of the death sentence, they maintained the balance of power in the two hemispheres.  They just delayed but did not prevent the fall of their own regime and that of the Communists.


            The peoples of the world are demanding social reforms.  Not only the State Capitalists, namely the Communists, but also the Capitalists are starving the people.  As a result of the Revolution, the standard of living in Hungary has definitely improved and supposedly, among the satellite nations, the Hungarian people enjoy the best life.  However, not only the Communist propagandists, but also many of the Western journalists attribute the improvement in the standard of living not to the Hungarian Revolution but directly to the kind-hearted János Kádár and the Communist regime.  They represent the situation as one in which the Hungarian people should be grateful to Kádár and the Communist regime for their standard of living.  Many journalists throughout the world have commemorated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution in this spirit.  The brainwashing of the American people culminated in a television report, prepared in Hungary, which showed satisfaction and prosperity, stores full of goods and, among the people, János Kádár, who created all this.  It did not mention that the same János Kádár sentenced hundreds of thirteen, fourteen and fifteen year-old children to death, boys and girls who had to wait on death row until they were old enough to be hanged on their eighteenth birthday. 


            The televised speech of American President, Gerald Ford, was received with disgust by the nationality groups of the Iron Curtain countries, living in America.  According to Gerald Ford, the satellite nations are free, independent, self-governing countries.  This is why he signed the Helsinki agreement.  This statement of his did not help the situation  and caused him to lose the election.  Jimmy Carter, the next President of the United States, rewarded János Kádár by returning the Holy Crown of Hungary to the puppet government which is held in power by armored tanks.  The announcement of his intention to return the Holy Crown took place on November 4, the anniversary of the second Soviet intervention.  On that day, in 1956, the Soviets started to crush the Freedom Fight.  With this act, the President accepted and acknowledged the bloody suppression of the Hungarian Revolution, a revolution which demanded social reform.


            The Central American states, where the people are starving, are also demanding social reform but are not receiving effective help from the United States, which could solve the social problems.  Instead, the world leaders, through the Government of the United States, force these people to the other side, to the Communist camp, in spite of their unwillingness to become Communist.  Since the American Government committed the irremediable mistake of refusing to buy Cuban sugar, the Russians appeared and paid a price well above the world market price for sugar.  Result: Cuba became Communist although the people did not want to become Communist.  They had no alternative.  Fidel Castro, in person, took command and just looked for a reason to bring in Communism.  The world leaders provided the reason by refusing to buy the sugar because the State Capitalist regime was more suitable to their interests than a Socialist regime.  The world leaders ruined the image of Socialism.  The greatest difference between Capitalism and Communism is the possession of the means of production.  Under Capitalism, it is in the hands of the private sector whereas under Communism, it is in the hands of the state.  In Nicaragua, twenty-five to thirty people own 90% of the capital and they make the people work for subsistence pay.  There too, just as in a Communist regime, if anyone dares to speak of social reform, he is sentenced to prison or to death.  That has happened in Guatemala and in El Salvador too.


            The people of these countries do not want to be Communist either but, here too, the Communists have come into leadership and the world leaders will give them a reason to adopt State Capitalism.  If they do not want to live on the right with a Capitalist regime, they may go to the left to the Communists.  In the middle is the Socialist society but there is no end there either because this line is not straight but bends to make a circle.  Where the two ends meet, the two groups come together, Capitalism and State Capitalism (Communism).  This is why Hungarians had to die in the Hungarian Revolution.  This is why the Communists are helping to bring into existence the different Communist States which the world leaders call Socialist.  This is the only way that they can secure their power over the masses. A true Socialist society cannot be allowed no matter where it may spring up.  The proof of this is the betrayal of the Hungarian Revolution which took up arms not against a Capitalist state but against a State Capitalist (Communist) regime.  The revolutionaries intended to create a real Socialist regime in which the people place the interests of the nation to the fore rather than the interests of the State or the Capitalists.  The world leaders do not really care in whose hands lie the means of production.  For them, the most important thing is that there not be public ownership anywhere.  In 1956, in Hungary, we wanted to create a true Socialist society out of a Communist society.  The world leaders did not find it suitable as they are just as much opposed to this as they are to creating a Socialist regime from a Capitalist regime.  This is why they support and help the upcoming Communist regimes and wherever the Communist regimes already exist, they make sure that they continue to exist.  The political significance of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution is that it strengthened the fact that there is no third road between the Communist and Capitalist regimes.  In the Communist countries, those who demand socialist reforms are branded as fascist, imperialist agents and hanging is their fate.  However, the people are only asking for human rights.  If, in a Capitalist regime in South America, someone asks for socialist reform, he is called communist and, just as in Central America, he is executed.  So what is the difference?


            The words of Sándor Petöfi[6] are perhaps now most timely when, in Communist Poland and in Capitalist Central America the people are demanding similar socialist reforms:

            “Now the people are asking. Now give it to them!”


            What are the world leaders waiting for?  World Revolution?  Why do they not want to solve the world socialist situation peacefully and without bloodshed?  One way or the other, it will be resolved.  Progress makes it inevitable.








            “ . . . Gergely Pongrátz.  Six Pongrátz boys were active in Corvin Circle.  Their father, Simon Pongrátz, was a Supreme Court judge in Szamosújvár[7] (in Transylvania).  The Pongrátz family openly displayed their fascist and chauvinistic viewpoints in the October events.


            “The Pongrátz brothers were active participants in the fights during the night of October 23.  One of them was the leader in charge of acquiring weapons from the lamp-factory.  The brothers worked together and finally succeeded in seizing possession of the leadership of Corvin Circle.


            “On November 1, Gergely Pongrátz was elected to be ‘the Corvin Circle Regiment Commander of the National Guard’.  A few days later, all of the members of the Pongrátz family fled to the West.  One of Gergely’s companions, László Iván-Kovács, gives us the following description of him:  ‘At first, I thought he was an unselfish patriot and a good comrade but I discovered that he is a selfish and conceited career man.  He wanted to solve everything with force, by giving orders, but this patriotic varnish wore off and it could be seen that he was fighting for his own selfish interests.  He hated the existing political system, just as he hated the Russians and Communism.  He also worked in closest cooperation with the West. . . .’”


            These lines appeared in the famous, or previously famous, Fehér Könyv[8].  I really do not feel that I should have to defend myself but, since the Ministry of Information of the Hungarian People’s Republic has written this about me, then I too have to relate a few things about myself and my family.


            My ancestors moved into Transylvania[9] in the fourteenth century.  They had fled from Armenia, where the Turks had been slaughtering them for centuries.  They were the founders of the city of Szamosújvár which is situated in a valley on the banks of the River Szamos, on land which they bought from the Hungarian king.


            The Armenians of Szamosújvár became Hungarians in every respect and their Hungarian character strengthened over the centuries.  Despite their small population, they played an important role in Hungarian history.  Two of the thirteen executed martyrs of the city of Arad[10] were Armenians, Ernő Kiss and Vilmos Lázár.  A third Armenian, János Cecz, was a general in the Freedom Fight of 1848, who did not trust Haynau, and escaped.  He established the first military school in Argentina.  As for my family, Tivadár Novák, one of my great-grandfathers from Szamosújvár, was shot to death in 1849 by Haynau’s men.


            I am proud of my Armenian ancestry, which remains only in our religion.  Throughout the centuries, our blood and our religion have remained Armenian.  Our hearts, however, have become Hungarian.  Now, because we have been compelled to emigrate to America, we have become American citizens, which merely changed our passports.  Our hearts and blood remained as they were.


            My father fought throughout World War I. as a reserve officer, Second Lieutenant.  He received the third-class Military Cross of Distinction, decorated with swords, for checking General Brussilov’s offensive.  Later, a knighthood was conferred upon him, in recognition of his actions in the First World War, for which he had been awarded nineteen medals.


            After the War, he received his doctorate in Political Science and Law from the University of Kolozsvár.[11]  However, as a result of the Rumanian occupation of Transylvania, he was never permitted to use his degree.  He was never a judge of the Supreme Court, or any other kind of judge. (This indicates the accuracy of the White Book!)  My father was never a member of any party except the Transylvanian-Hungarian party and he raised nine children, of whom I was the sixth, and I adopted his viewpoint.  None of us was ever a member of any party, which proves that we never had political ambitions.  For us, it was always enough to be Hungarians.  Ever since our childhood, our parents have raised us with these patriotic feelings and, in the thirties, the Rumanian children in Transylvania often fought us because of our patriotism to Hungary, which only served to strengthen our love for our country.  For us, March 15 was always a special holiday,[12] even when the rosettes pinned to our chests were not allowed to be worn outside on the streets.  I remember, when I was a small child, having ten or fifteen Hungarian visitors from the city.  The shutters were closed, the curtains were drawn and my older brothers were positioned outside the gate as guards.[13]  My mother sat down at the piano and began to sing her own composition:


“From our bosoms the three colors were torn,

 but they wandered within and in our hearts were worn.”


            In the late twenties, my father wrote some other words to a song.  Slightly modified, we sang it frequently at Corvin Circle:


“The bugle sounds across the Great Hungarian Plain.

  The bugler plays reveille, does not sound alarm.

  Wake up, Transylvanians and Bánát Hungarians.

  We’ll no longer be slaves of the Rumanians!


  Tho’ we have no weapons, our fists will be our might.

  With them we all know how to break and crush and fight.

  Hungarians, we’ll sacrifice our lives if must be,

  For our Hungarian homeland to be whole and free.”


After the liberation of Transylvania, in 1940,[14] my father became the Mayor of Szamosújvár.  Later, he joined the Army as a Reserve Officer, with the rank of First Lieutenant, then became a captain at the railroad bridge at Apahíd.  My father, along with my four older brothers and my brother-in-law, fought in World War II.  My eldest brother, Simon, was wounded six times and was knighted. 


            After the War, the family moved first to Mátészalka (in Hungary) and then, when my father came home, we moved again to Soroksár (near Budapest) where, because of his having nine children, my father received thirteen “holds”[15] of land to manage.


            Of all the children, my brother Ernő was the only “former convict”.  In 1951, he disappeared from one day to the next.  We searched for him in vain.  The authorities did not even know anything about him.  Months later, a dirty, ragged and hungry visitor, who had recently escaped from the detention camp on Mosonyi Street (in Budapest), told us that Ernő had asked him to come and tell the family that he was still alive.  After sixteen months of detention, Ernő was freed and only then was the reason for his imprisonment revealed.  “He was suspected of attempting to cross the border.”  He came home weighing only about one hundred pounds.  After that, the whole family was placed under police supervision for months.  He was never brought before a jury.


            I became an agriculturist and it is only thanks to my guardian angel that I survived twelve years of the Communist system without going to jail.  My first job lasted only three weeks.  I worked for an eight thousand “hold” government farm, where I took care of the cows.  In defense of an older co-worker, a father of many children, I had a big argument with the farm manager (whose original trade was that of a shoemaker), and I tipped over a desk on top of him.  I had to leave immediately.


            My second job did not last much longer.  I worked as an agricultural engineer at a machine-center in Seregély.  I found out later that the manager there was once a day-laborer at Soroksár.  Because I was hired, the manager, having less work to do, went away for a few days’ vacation.  When he returned, he called me into his office and asked:


            “Why did you lie in your autobiography?”

            “I did not lie in my autobiography or anywhere else.  What is the reason for this investigation?”

            “Why did you not write in your autobiography that your father was a doctor?”

            “Because I was writing  my autobiography and not my father’s”

            “Collect your things and clear out of here.  I don’t want to see you here again.”


            Bitterly, I went home to Soroksár.  A few days later, I went to the office of the Agricultural Council of Pest County.  I told the leader of the livestock breeders my whole story.  They hired me and I became the lecturer in the fodder-production department at the Szob County Agricultural Council.  I liked my work very much because I was often able to help in many areas.  After several months, however, I was drafted into the Army.  At first, I was in the Kossuth Academy Guard Company, then in the Dombovár Artillery.  Finally, I was placed in the Mezőtúr Infantry, where I completed two years.  Twice, I was a private, first class, and I was discharged with this rank.  I was once demoted for the following reason:


            I was a squadron leader in Dombovár and I saw that one of my soldiers was very distressed.  At my questioning, he handed me a letter from his wife.  The sorrowful tone of the letter was very touching.  The woman could not pay the taxes on their two “holds” of land because her husband was a soldier who hardly earned anything.  She supported herself and her daughter by sewing for the neighbors.  Those who did not pay their debts had their sewing-machines confiscated.  She did not know what they would live on if that happened.


            After reading the letter, I attended a political meeting. When the lieutenant came in, I raised my hand and asked what was the difference between Communism and Capitalism.  After a whole hour of explanation, he asked me if I understood the difference.


            “I can understand the difference, Lieutenant Comrade but I see it differently.  I know that under Capitalism, if a worker cannot pay his rent, the pillow is taken from under his head.  In the Communist system, all the resources belong to the government.  Nevertheless, the Communist government is just as merciless as the Capitalist government, as it takes all of the worker’s belongings from him.  Therefore, I don’t see that Communism is any different from State Capitalism.”


            The lieutenant jumped up and left without a word.  By one o’clock, I was summoned to appear at the regiment commander’s office.  A dozen officers and field-officers sat behind the regiment commander’s desk.  I was seated in the middle of the room. My heart was beating in my throat.

            “How do you see State Capitalism?”, asked the regiment commander.

            “Sir, I asked the lieutenant a question to which I did not receive a satisfactory answer.  I will repeat this question now but I ask that whoever answers, should answer only after reading this letter.”  I gave him the letter from my pocket.


            After the regiment commander had read the letter, he gave it to the major, the company’s political officer, to read.  The major was to answer.  I did not receive an answer immediately.  I was sent away.


            The following morning, I was called in for a briefing with the regiment commander.  They tore off my Private First Class insignia and took away my pistol belt.  I was sentenced to two fifteen-day periods of imprisonment.  For this offense, fifteen days was the maximum so I was not sentenced to thirty days.  That would have been against the rules.  I was fed every other day and I was tortured.  The two fifteen-day sentences were not against the rules.  Even today, in my dreams, I relive the horrors of those thirty days.  When I was released from prison, the major, the regiment’s political officer, was waiting for me outside the detention room and was very pleasant to me.  Later, I found out that, with this punishment, he had saved me from the court-martial which would have sentenced me to fifteen years of hard labor.  My comrade also told me that, in his presence, the major had telephoned to the town’s mayor and had given him twenty-four  hours to return the sewing-machine to that soldier’s wife and to apologize to her.  If he did not act immediately, two truckloads of soldiers would be dispatched to the area in order to create order in the town.


            That afternoon, I met the major in the yard in front of the barracks.  I thanked him for his actions and assured him that, no matter how terrible the thirty days had been, they were worth it.  We became very good friends and he protected me many times.  He arranged for my transfer to Mezőtúr to save me from the court-martial again.


            In Mezőtúr, I became the company clerk, platoon sergeant and later, the training instructor of the reserves, again with the rank of Private First Class.  It was from here that I was discharged in 1955.


            I ended up in Cegléd, where I became the leading animal breeder in the agricultural division of the Town Council.  I did not work for the pay but because I liked my work.  The Town Council provided me with a 125 cubic centimeter motorcycle to eliminate my transportation difficulties.  My monthly pay was 964 forints, the price of two pairs of fairly good shoes, which was just enough to live on.


            In the Communist system, almost everything flows according to production norms or enters a race.  When I accepted my new job, Cegléd was sixteenth out of seventeen districts surrounding Pest.  One year later, it ranked fourth.  On my part, this required fifteen to sixteen hours of work a day.  The leading animal breeder in the district council, who accepted his job after six months of hard-paced training, was a member of the Communist Party.  He encouraged me to join the Communist Party so that my pay would rise to his level of pay.  One time, I told my father that I had no other solution if I wanted to survive.  My father’s reply was short and sweet:


            “Look, son.  They could have broken my back but they could never have bent it.  You, however, are a big boy now and you will do what you want.  I do, however, ask that, from the day that you become a member of the Communist Party, you do not step over the threshold of my house and that you do not use my name.  Do you understand?”

            “Yes, Father, I understand completely,” I answered.


            With this, event the thought of becoming a member of the Communist Party died.  In those years, I lay down many times with the self-pitying thought that, while I was asleep, I would not feel hungry.


            For the most part, my job entailed the development of stock-breeding in the fourteen farm-cooperatives belonging to the Cegléd Town Council.  It included the growth, production and the supervision of the supply of food.  Many times, I was out at one of the cooperatives at four o’clock in the morning and, since I was always with them, I had a chance to become acquainted with the sad lifestyle of the Hungarian peasants.  I helped wherever I could, and I acquired friends that way.  One time, in the “Great Stalin Cooperative”, I learned of a very sad incident.  Someone related to me:


            “Last week, the AVH (secret police) took away one of the cowboys.  When Hungary was “liberated” in 1945, this man was the owner of a small farm.  One morning, as he was taking care of the animals in the stable, he heard his wife scream in the house.  He ran in with a pitchfork in his hands and found his wife tied to a chair and his fourteen year-old daughter being raped by a Russian soldier.  The Russian soldier jumped for his machine-gun but the pitchfork was faster.  With the help of one of his neighbors, a good friend, the farmer buried the soldier deep under a pile of manure.  Now, however, the two friends had had an argument and, as a result the incident was reported.  The farmer was held for only four days.  They hanged him the day before yesterday.”


            My younger brother, Bálint, worked in the plant-protecting station as a tractor driver.  With overtime and field work, he made 2500-3000 forints a month. (Enough for about 6 pairs of shoes)  His boss, the station’s top agriculturist, came into the agricultural division when they were working in our area.  We became good friends and I asked him if he would take me on as a tractor-driver.


            “Come to us as an agriculturist,” he answered.

            “I would but they will write in my record that I quit.”

            “Don’t worry about your record.  I’ll take care of that.  The door is open if you are serious.  You may come whenever you want to and you can be whatever you want to be.”

            “Not yet, Jóska.  However, when the time is right, I’ll let you know.  I still have work that I want to finish before I leave the Town Council.”


            My pay as the head breeder did not increase.  On the contrary, it decreased.  I was forced to donate one month’s pay to the victims of the earthquake of January of 1956.  This was paid by deducting a certain amount from each month’s pay.  I had a nice job but I was starving.


            At one time, my boss, the head of the agricultural division, told me that I must attend the District Committee Meeting and give a report on the city’s position on live-stock breeding.  I should have been ready for this.  I tried in vain to get myself out of this assignment.  Nothing worked, so I went and made the report.


            After I had spoken, the district secretary gave me some orders concerning the future.  I said that these instructions should be given to my replacement because I was leaving at the end of the month.  The secretary answered:


            “Comrade Pongrátz, if someone is hurting, he goes to the doctor for a cure.  If something is bothering you, you should speak out now because that is the only way we can help the situation.  We are very satisfied with your work and we don’t want to lose our head stock-breeder.”


            I did not want to speak because I feared that I would say something that would get me into trouble but many people encouraged me to speak out.  So I told them:


            “My monthly pay was 964 forints.  This was not only too little to support a family but I even went hungry.  They collected one month’s pay for the victims of the earthquake.  My father had a ninety percent loss due to the earthquake and when he requested help, they wanted to give him a loan at a four percent interest rate.  What happened to the money that the workers were forced to donate?  Are they giving the victims loans from this money with a four percent interest?  My father died in March.  I put in my request for help for the funeral and it was not granted because I had not been a member of the workers’ union for two years.  It did not matter to anyone that I had been a soldier and that I had fulfilled my duty toward my country.  I did not get the aid.  This and many other incidents are forcing me to change jobs.  I’ve had enough of starving.”


“Comrade Pongrátz,” answered the secretary.  “The district DISz committee (Dolgozó Ifjusági Szövetség – Working Youths Union)  needs a responsible sports leader.  This job would require two to three hours on Saturdays and it pays 3600 forints.  We can solve the problem with this.  The position is yours.”


“Thank you for finding the remedy to my problem but I don’t think this will be the right solution.  I studied my trade for six years and I work 15-16 hours daily for 964 forints a month.  This proves that you are not paying me for my work but just to satisfy my pride.  My conscience cannot accept that I would be paid three and one half times as much as I am paid now for a job that requires no training and only ten to twelve hours a month.  If I cannot live as an agriculturist, I must change my trade.  Maybe I should become a sports director because I can see that it pays better.”


They asked me to think about it for the offer would still be open if I stayed.  However, on June 1, I went to the plant-protecting station in the County of Pest.  That day, I was sent to Biatorbágy where I completed a six-week course in tractor driving.  My trade as an agriculturist developed and I was sent to various cooperatives and State Farms for different periods of time.  I had been working for two weeks at the Henyelpuszta State Farm when the Revolution broke out.


In 1956, there were not many people in Soroksár who had their own telephone because, in order to have one, they had to have good connections with the Communist Party.  Ours, however, could in no way be considered to be a good connection with the Communist Party.  We asked for a telephone but the Soroksár Telephone Company told us that we would have to wait for at least two years because there was a long waiting list ahead of us.  It was destined otherwise.


One Sunday morning, the president of the telephone company came to us in urgent need of a truckload of sand at his home.  The mason was already there, waiting for the sand.  On the previous day, Saturday, he had tried unsuccessfully to find someone who would deliver the sand.  He was sent to us because we might be able to help him.


My brother Kristof (usually called Bandi) told him that the sand would be no problem and could be delivered within an hour.  The problem was the telephone for which we must wait two years.  The president of the telephone company promised that the next available line would be ours and within a few days this actually occurred.  The telephone was installed in the spring of 1956.


Ödön and Bandi stayed at home to manage the thirteen “hold” farm that my father, as the head of a large family, had received after the land reform of 1976.  Since the formation of the T. Sz. Cs. (Farmer’s Cooperative), our thirteen “holds” had been altered.  Two “holds” had been taken from us here and given to us there.  They did this until thirteen “holds” of sand were left to us instead of thirteen “holds” of earth.  Many times the seeds were blown away with the sand after they had been planted.  However, we had to produce enough to deliver our compulsory quota of wheat to the state.  In 1955, our entire wheat harvest was not enough to satisfy the state’s demands.  My father, who had already had heart trouble for three years, could not afford to pay 650 forints for wheat in the public market so that he could sell it back to the government for 54 forints.   In the early 1950’s Ödön and Bandi built a truck, in which they delivered goods for the local agricultural cooperative and the Government’s Model Farm at Soroksár.  With the help of this truck, they were able to collect enough money to buy the wheat at the public market.  They turned in their wheat quota three months late.


In January and February of 1956, my father received two notices from the Pest-Erzsébet Court of Justice.  In both cases, Ödön went to court with a doctor’s excuse that my father was sick in bed.  Ödön said that, since he was the eldest child in the family, he was responsible for everything that happened in the family.  He would be at the court’s disposal.  Both times, he was sent home.


On March 27, however, five people knocked on his door, representing the Erzsébet Court of Justice.  They sat around my father’s bed and held their discussion.  After the accusations had been made, my father, who held a doctorate in Law and Government, began to speak.  However, after his second sentence, the lawyer interrupted him,  “Don’t carry on for a long time, old man, because we don’t have time.  Listen to the decision.”


The judge took out a paper and read the disposition:

            “Seven thousand forints fine and two years in jail for endangering the public interest.”

            My father began to express his pent-up anger by yelling, “Scoundrels, murderers, get out of my house!  You call this justice?  You don’t even listen to the defendant before you pronounce judgment? You don’t take into account any mitigating circumstances because you don’t have time to listen to them?”

Ödön and Bandi told the court personnel who were preparing to leave that, if anything happened to my father, they too would be taken out of the house in coffins.  They left the house so quickly that, in his hurry, one judge forgot his overcoat.  A few minutes later, however, he returned and called from the gate to Ödön, asking him to bring it out to him.  When Ödön gave him his overcoat, the judge apologized to him and said that it was not his fault.  He had already received the judgment from the court.  His job was merely to read it.  The prison sentence was suspended.

The following day, March 28, 1956, at 8:20 a.m., my father’s heart gave up its duty forever.  On April 2, his six sons carried his coffin to the Farkas Rét cemetery, where he was buried.

            Marika and András were still in school;  Marika at the Soroksár Elementary School and András at the Erzsébet High School.  Bálint had already graduated and was working at the Plant Protection Station in the County of Pest as a tractor driver.  I was employed at the Agricultural Division of the Cegléd City Council, as the head of the stock-breeders group.  Ernő worked in a factory in Erzsébet as an unskilled worker and, at the same time, he was a student in his last year in law school.  My older sister, Panni, was married during the War and was living in Arad, Transylvania.  Simon, my eldest brother, was seriously wounded in the fighting during the War and, at the end of the War, he ended up in Germany in a war hospital.  He never came home from there.  All we knew about him was that he lived in Brazil with his wife and little son.

            Marika was born on July 4, 1944, when my brother Simon was in the hospital with war wounds, so they had never even seen each other.  The nine children were reunited for the first time around my mother’s coffin in 1975, in Boston.  This reunion was accomplished with the help of the Foreign Ministry because the Rumanians did not want to give Panni a visa.  In 1963, during his honeymoon voyage, András had persuaded Simon to move from Brazil to America, with his wife and three children.

            It was the irony of fate that the nine siblings were together in 1975 because, in 1978, my brother Ernő died.  In 1956, Ernő was the only one of the seven children at home who was married.  He lived in Pest-Erzsébet with his wife, mother-in-law and two sons.  The six others lived at home with my mother where, in 1956, Ödön and Bandi were building a glazed tile stove in the evenings, after they had finished their day’s work.




            In the afternoon of October 23, Ödön and Bandi wanted to finish building the glazed tile stove.  Only the finishing touches were needed.  It was about two o’clock, when the telephone rang for the first time.  Ernő was calling from Budapest, asking our mother to send somebody over to Magda, his wife, in Erzsébet, a suburb of Budapest, to tell her that Ernő was taking part in the demonstration and, if he were late coming home, she was not to worry.  He also said that they should turn on the radio because big things were happening in Budapest.

            Ödön and Bandi listened to the radio reports.  At first the demonstration was forbidden but later on it was allowed.  Actually, the brothers did not place great importance on the radio announcement because it was very short.

            Later, around six o’clock, the phone rang again.  It was András whom they had sent to Erzsébet to give the message to Magda from Ernő.  In a very excited voice, almost shouting, he said, “Mother, I am here, at Hősőktér (Heroes Square).  I have just come from the statue of the mail robber.[16] I tied a long cable around his neck.  We want to pull him down but he is standing so firmly that three trucks pulling on him cannot make him move.  Now the workers have gone to get an oxyacetylene torch.  About ten thousand people are here and everyone is shouting, “Heave-ho!” as he pulls on the cable.  My Russian teacher is here too.  He too is pulling.  He said that this year I will get an excellent grade in Russian language if that scoundrel falls on his face.”

            “András, what are you talking about?” asked my mother.  “I don’t understand a word of what you are babbling.”

            “I’m talking about Stalin’s statue, which stands in the Városliget.”

            “O, my God!  What are you doing, András?  You’ll go to prison!”

            “Don’t be afraid, mother.  In the whole country there are not enough prisons to lock up this number of people.  Forty thousand people marched to the statue of Bem[17] this afternoon, all shouting: ‘Russians, go home!’  They cut the Russian emblem out of the Hungarian flag and handed out leaflets to everyone, listing the demands of the university students.  Where could they lock them all up unless they made a prison out of the whole country?  Right now, everyone is singing and is happy.”

            “Wait, András!  Here is Ödön.  Speak to him too.”

            Ödön picked up the telephone and András told him the news from Budapest.  For the first time Ödön could not give him any advice because the things András was telling him sounded impossible.  He found himself facing a situation which took time to understand.  András promised to call later and inform them of the newest developments.

            Ödön and Bandi talked excitedly about the news and what might come of it.  Was it possible that the lava had started to flow?  The AVH (secret police) would surely stop it and, if they could not, would it result in revolution?  Impossible!  The Communists had made revolutions but there had never been a revolution against the Communists.  The toppling of Stalin’s statue, the cutting out of the Russian emblem from the Hungarian flag, the shouting of the slogan, “Russians, go home!”, the sixteen demands of the university students, which they were distributing by hand on the streets, all signified an enormous change, something previously unimaginable, which would affect the future of the Hungarian nation.  What could the university students want?  What could be in the sixteen points that had brought the whole city to a fever?  At eight o’clock in the evening, Ernő Gerő[18], the First Secretary of the MDP (Hungarian Workers’ Party) would speak on the radio.  Perhaps he would be able to answer these questions.

            The telephone rang again.  It was about seven o’clock and, in that tense atmosphere, Ödön sprang to the telephone.  Ernő was calling and, almost shouting, in an excited voice, he said,            “I am at the Parliament Building and, in this area, we are making history.  There are 200,000 people on this spot, calling for Imre Nagy.[19]  Carried along with the huge crowd, I reached the entrance to the Parliament Building, along with Péter Veres and Tibor Déry.  We kicked and pounded on the door because they had turned off the lights and the crowd remained in darkness in the square.  When they opened the door, a guard said that the Comrade Ministers would see two men from among the demonstrators.  We urged Péter Veres and Tibor Déry to enter but they did not want to.  They said that we should go in and, if we needed them later on, we should call them.  An economist joined me and they led us up to the first floor, where Hidás, Mekis and Erdei received us.  The fear which came over me as we climbed the stairs all at once disappeared when Erdei asked what we wanted.

            – – First: turn on the lamps in the square and light up the Parliament Building.

            “The three ministers looked at each other.  Erdei rang a bell and gave an order to a non-commissioned officer.  The lights came on.

            – – Second: Turn off the light on the Russian Star on the top of the Parliament Building and raise the Hungarian national flag without the Russian emblem.

            “They turned off the light in the Red Star and a cheer went up from the crowd outside.  The national flag without the Russian emblem was found after a long search in the attic.  It was an old flag but they hung it out.

            – – Third:  Call Imre Nagy because the crowd wants to hear him.

            “None of them knew Imre Nagy’s phone number and that caused a serious problem.  It was obvious that the crowd wanted to hear him, for they were shouting his name.  Finally, I managed to convince the Ministers to send a car to Imre Nagy’s home to bring him back to the Parliament.  They placed a car at my disposal to go to the radio building and bring back a tape-recorder because an historical event was taking place and we wanted to record it on tape.

            “Send someone to Magdi and tell her not to worry, but it is possible that I won’t go home tonight ,”  my brother Ernő ended the conversation.

            Ödön and Bandi talked about these events as they waited for new information to be given on the radio.  The radio kept repeating the eight o’clock speech of Ernő Gerő and did not say anything about what was happening in Budapest.  My mother was wringing her hands and only said, “You will see, children, this is the end of the world.”

            Bandi turned on the radio and shouted, “Listen!”

            “The university students are demanding that the Kossuth emblem be returned and that  March 15 and October 6 be recognized as national holidays.  At one university, twelve demands were submitted and at another, twenty demands but all with a clear head and a warm heart.

            “All the students of the University of Budapest protested together.  Today, the Minister of the Interior forbade all kinds of demonstrations but the Political Committee of the MDP changed this decision.  Doctors, engineering students, philosophy students, law students, economy students and others all lined up and marched, led by their professors and the MDP leaders from each district.

            “At first, there were only thousands but young workers joined them, bystanders, soldiers, old people, high school students, streetcar conductors.  The huge flow of people grew to tens of thousands.  The streets resounded with slogans. Father Bem and the people of Kossuth went hand in hand, shouting:

            – – We want new leadership. We trust Imre Nagy. Long live the People’s Army. – “So rang out the shouts.  The tricolor flag fluttered and the windows of the houses were opened.  A new, free breeze swept through the streets of Budapest.  What did Petőfi write about the significance of March 15, 1848?

            – – ‘The beginning is excellent and glorious for it is harder for a child to take the first step than for a grown-up to walk miles.’” (10)

            “Yes, but today is not March 15, 1848, but October 23, 1956,” said Ödön.  Bandi, however, felt that the words which Petöfi had written were applicable today and he said that he did not believe that the world was coming to an end.  He felt rather that this was the beginning of a new world, which was being born that very hour.

            Ernő Gerő spoke but did not say anything new.  He just repeated the usual slogans but his speech, after the telephone conversation between András and Ödön had the effect of oil on a fire.

            Gerő had not yet ended his speech when the telephone rang.  It was Ernő, calling again from the Parliament Building.  He spoke to Ödön so excitedly that it was difficult to understand him.

            “I  have just come back from the radio station where a crowd of about ten thousand demands that the sixteen points be read over the radio.  The radio building is full of AVH men who are using tear-gas bombs against the crowd.  Sometimes someone in the crowd gets a hold of one and throws it back into the building.  The crowd is not moving from here until the sixteen points are read on the radio.  Imre Nagy is here also.  I reminded him to tell László Piros, Minister of the Interior, to prevent the AVH men from using weapons because, if they do, there will be bloodshed the extent of which has never been seen before.  These events have stunned Imre Nagy and he asked what he should say to the crowd.  I told him to say anything he wants to but not to begin with ‘Comrades’.  In spite of my advice, he began that way and the crowd jeered at him.  He began again, ‘Hungarian brothers!’ and at that he received enormous applause.  The people shouted, “Long live Imre Nagy!”

                                                Picture I. (p. 43)

On the evening of October 23, in the Parliament Building.  Behind Imre Nagy stands my brother, Ernő in his raincoat. (Top, right)

Now there are twenty-five of us here with Imre Nagy and the crowd in the square is still growing.  I am afraid that the AVH will use their weapons and that could really cause trouble because of the spirit of the crowd.  Did somebody go to Magdi and tell her not to expect me?”

            “Not yet, but in a few moments I am going with Bandi and then we are both going to Pest.”

            Ödön put the telephone down and said to Bandi:

            “‘Talpra Magyar, hi a haza.’  (Rise up, Magyars, your country calls.)[20] Now they need us.  Get ready.  Go up into the hay-loft and bring down Father’s pistols from World War II.  While you are doing that, I will wash my hands.”

            Our mother stood in front of them.  “Now you two are not going anywhere,” she said.  “Two of my sons are already there.  Is that not enough?  You can’t help the situation anyway, and especially if you take pistols with you.  You will get shot at. I won’t permit it!”

            Bandi then forgot his usual respectful manner toward her and asked, “What will become of our poor country if every mother thinks this way?  If every one of them keeps her sons tied to her apron strings now, when the country needs them?  What would Father say if he were alive?  ‘I will not allow you to go’ or ‘Your place is there!’?

            “Let me continue what Ödön began to say, ‘Itt az idő, most vagy soha!’[21] If we don’t go now, we deserve our fate.  Then this nation has been ripened to be destroyed.  Does our mother still say that she won’t permit it?”

            “I do not say that,” answered our mother, crying. “Perhaps your father would like it this way.  He would say that your place is there.  I will not stand in your way.  Go!  I will pray for you and all those mothers who will lose their children if the AVH use their weapons after all.  My God!  Don’t let there be a blood bath.  Look after yourselves and each other.”

            Ödön and Bandi were ready within minutes and began to walk to Erzsébet.  They went out onto the main road and waved at all the vehicles which were going toward Budapest, asking them to stop.  Finally, when they had almost reached the border of Erzsébet, a truck carrying potatoes picked them up but they did not go far.  In front of the lamp-factory, several youths, armed with small rifles, stopped the truck.  One of the boys asked the driver, “What are you carrying and where are you going?”  Who are your passengers?”

            When the situation was explained, the boys related that, half an hour earlier, the AVH at the radio station had fired into the crowd.  There were many dead and countless injured.  The boys had come here because they wanted weapons.  Revolution had erupted.  Everybody in Budapest wanted a weapon but they could not enter the factory.  The gate was locked and they did not know what to do.  It was possible that there were AVH men inside the lamp-factory.

            Bandi’s opinion was that, since the Revolution had broken out, we were all revolutionaries and should act as such.  If we needed weapons, we should not just be thinking about them, we should acquire them.  Bandi told the others to stay there.  If he succeeded in opening the gate, he would call them.

            The gate of the lamp-factory was hardly a hundred meters from the place where they had been talking.  Bandi went over there and kicked the iron door, at which an older man came out of the guard-house.

            “What do you want?” asked the guard.

            Bandi spoke very quietly, disguising his voice and knowing that the guard, from that distance, could not understand him.  The old guard came closer to the gate and, between the wrought-iron designs, Bandi could see that there was now scarcely one meter between them.  He took out from under his coat Father’s pistol, for which he had no bullets, and he pointed it at the guard.

            “The Revolution has broken out!  Open the gate or you will be the first brave dead person of the Revolution!” said Bandi, forcefully.

            The gate opened and Bandi called to the boys, who came running.  Bandi told the old man to go home because they had no need of him.  He told the boys to tear from the wall any telephone that they found.  They were not to touch anything else.  The greatest surprise was that, after that first dozen boys, men came from everywhere.  Now it was not only children, but grown-up men too.  Everybody wanted a weapon.

            They went into the factory to search for weapons but only found great quantities of ammunition.  The armory was nowhere.  They found about fifteen carbine rifles on the practice grounds but they were not what they were looking for.  After a good half-hour search, a fifteen year-old girl apprentice  went to Bandi and said that if they were looking for those big green boxes in which there might be weapons, then she knew where they were.  The young girl took them down a long corridor where, beside the right hand wall, sewing-machines in boxes were stacked to the ceiling.

            “Last week, there was a door here, somewhere behind these boxes.  That was where they brought in the big green boxes.”

            Within a few minutes, they had thrown aside the sewing-machines and found the door.  It was locked but they solved that problem with a few crowbars.  When they entered, they found themselves in a huge room, where the “big green boxes” were stacked in rows, six high, filling the whole room, with hardly space to walk between them.  They opened the first box with crowbars and they found twelve new carbine rifles.  Bandi, waving his empty pistol, shouted that they should not open any more of the boxes here, but that they should take them out into the corridor and open them there.  They should look for some rags and wipe the grease off the weapons.  First of all, they should get the grease out of the barrels.  Those who had weapons and ammunition should go to the radio station as quickly as possible.

            The crowd thinned out and the weapons too.  The news had spread like wildfire that there were weapons at the lamp-factory.  In the place of those who left, others came and took their rifles.  Even so, there still remained a lot of arms at the armory.  Bandi found a solution for this too.

            Trucks arrived from Budapest onto which boxes of weapons were loaded with corresponding amounts of ammunition.  Bandi told the drivers to take the weapons to Budapest and hand them out to all who needed them.

            Around midnight, the armory was emptied and Budapest was supplied with weapons.  Bandi reminded Ödön that the revolutionary “child” had taken is first step and this “child” (the revolution) which was born this afternoon at the statue of Bem, in a few days would not only walk, but also run.

            With carbine rifles on their shoulders, they set out for Ernő’s apartment, to give Ernő’s message to Magdi. (11)

            At the collective farm at Henyélpuszta, where I was working in the fall of 1956, there was a movie advertised at the cultural center, to begin at eight o’clock on the evening of October 23.  The movie was canceled because the Party-leader ordered everyone to listen to Ernő Gerő’s speech.  No excuses were allowed and it did not matter that everybody, with the exception of the Party-leader, wanted to see the movie.

            We made our way to the cultural center and, punctually at eight o’clock, the Party-leader turned on the radio.  We did not usually listen very attentively to the speech because it was usually composed of Communist slogans, supported by political lies, in other words, brainwashing.  However, this speech was entirely different.

            “Don’t allow enemy elements to disturb our working class and the efforts of our working people. . .

            “Our Party organizations should, in an orderly way, in a unified manner, stand up against any attempts to disturb the order with poisonous nationalism and provocation. . . .

            “In the work of our Party leadership, besides the great achievements, there have been serious mistakes.  The question is, do we want to build up Socialism in our country, or tear down the building of Socialism and open the door for Capitalism?  The question is, do you want to allow the working-class to rule, and the alliance of workers and  peasants to be undermined?” (12)

            At the end of the speech, a few of my colleagues and I spent a long time analyzing its meaning.  It was inconceivable that Gerő had acknowledged that the almighty, infallible Party leadership had committed grave mistakes.  If we were to weigh the achievements and the grave mistakes, which would be heavier?  Since the beginning of 1945, they had done nothing but destroy the best elements of the nation.  Even if a person were not a Nationalist (a former member of the Nyilas Party), he might not escape the hangman’s rope.  Individuals who even just mentioned these grave mistakes, acknowledged by Gerő in his speech, were imprisoned and many of them hanged.  Those people whose national feeling was their highest priority ended their lives on the gallows because they stood in the way of “socialist” progress.  Endre Bajcsy Zsilinszky was hanged by the Nationalist Party and, in 1945, the Communist Party named a street after him.  In 1948, they wanted to deport his widow who had asked that they take down his name from the street.  It was the Nationalist Party who imprisoned Cardinal Mindszenty, but what the AVH did to him was worse than inhuman, although he was the Primate of Hungary and his only sin against either the Nationalist Party or the Communist Party was that he cared about the fate of the nation. 

            In 1949, László Rajk, a Minister of the Hungarian government, was hanged and, following his execution, about fifty generals suffered the same fate, although Rajk and his generals had served Prime Minister Rákosi in every way to the end. (13)  Gábor Péter, a tailor’s apprentice who became a general, was also arrested.  His hands were bloody to the elbows and he was of the same religion as Rákosi.  He was accused of being a Zionist conspirator.  This charge was not really needed in order to remove Gábor Péter for there were times when the Hungarian government was almost entirely run by Jews.  In June, 1953, shortly after the death of Stalin, Khrushchev summoned the leaders of the Hungarian government to Moscow, where they were called “the Jewish gang”.  Mátyas Rákosi, Ernő Gerő, Mihály Farkas, and József Révai, the usurpers of power (Communist leaders) were all Jews. (14)

            What kind of socialism was Gerő talking about?  The working class was never as badly used as now.  In 1945, the Communists stated that everyone was equal, that every person had equal rights to share in the fruits of his work.  How nice that sounded!  But what actually happened?  The Communists took everything from everyone in the name of Socialism and everything was nationalized and became property of the State.  After that, the State, together with the economic leaders who did not know their jobs but who were good Communists, led the whole country to the edge of poverty.  In the place of the imprisoned, deported executed aristocrats, the Communists named their own Communist aristocracy and, with the disappearance of the private sector, the State became the Capitalist.  It was just because of this that the fate of the workers, instead of improving, became much worse.  The peasant who owned twenty-five to thirty “holds” now became known as a “capitalist” or “kulak” and if somebody fell into this category, he could be happy if he stayed alive.  Yet these middle-class farmers had been the pillars of Hungarian agriculture for centuries.  The new regime organized collective farms in which there was no room for the “kulaks” because they were declared to be “class enemies”.  The leadership positions went to reliable Communists.  The managers of the collective farms were not required to have degrees, they just needed to have a good Communist background to become the almighty lord over five to six thousand “holds” of land.  The result was that the Hungarian agriculture was completely ruined.

            The same thing happened in industry.  The Communists introduced the system of production norms which were continually increased.  Those who did not steal found it difficult to support their families.  The workers developed the attitude that the factory belonged to them so that they could take their own property, and if anyone was caught stealing, he was taken not to the police but to the AVH.  This stealing was regarded as a crime against the national economy and was therefore a political crime.  A joke against the Russians, the Communist Party or the members of the Government was regarded in the same light.  The Communists planted spies by the tens of thousands among the workers and the farmers, who also appeared to be working toward the norm.  Therefore nobody felt secure.

            Gerő called this freedom?  The communists called this Socialism?  In the previous twelve years, even the hope of freedom had been rooted out of the mind of the nation and the entire populace was kept in a state of fear.  In the place of Socialism,  a merciless State Capitalism was created which surpassed by a hundredfold the Capitalism of the West.  What kind of poisonous nationalism was Gerő talking about?  We knew that it was a crime in Hungary to be Hungarian and just because of that, thousands were sent to prison and hanged.  Therefore nobody dared to speak of patriotism but that did not mean that the patriotic feeling was killed out of the people.  Many books, which would have encouraged a patriotic feeling in the youth, were banned and put on an “index”.  Not even the supporters of Rákosi dared to touch the works of Sándor Petőfi.  The poems of Petőfi kept alive the flame of patriotic feelings which flickered and continued to burn.  Perhaps this was what Gerő feared.  Or did he fear that, in the fire kindled by that flickering flame, that cow would die, which Micsurin[22] had crossed with a giraffe and which grazed in Hungary but was milked in Moscow?

            It was well past midnight when we went to bed but we could not sleep.  I do not believe it was Gerő’s speech which kept us awake, but the conversation which followed it.  The “nationalistic poisoning” and “provocation” came into my mind.  My poor country!  For centuries it had had to carry the yoke of another master.  If not the Turks, then the Austrians or the Germans and now the Russians have kept this unfortunate nation as a colony.  Is it not a miracle that Hungary is still on the map?  True, there have been many attempts to wipe Hungary off the map completely but they have only partly succeeded.  At Trianon[23], the victorious powers gave away two thirds of our country.  Transylvania too, where I was born, was given to Rumania and even so I remained Hungarian.  Why?  Because my parents raised me to be Hungarian.  Or perhaps because the Rumanian children beat me up so many times for being Hungarian.  It is true that sometimes I got the better of them.

            There is still a country called Hungary so of course there are still Hungarians.  Is it possible that  the time has come that Hungarians can proudly announce that they are Hungarian?  Would this be, according to Gerő, the “nationalist poisoning”?  Whom do the Hungarians in Hungary provoke with this acknowledgment?  The Russians?





            The workers who boarded at the farm had to rise at six o’clock every morning.  I was very sleepy when I awoke because I had not slept much during the night.  The fresh, cold water washed the sleep from my eyes and, at seven o’clock, when the workers arrived from the surrounding villages, I was completely awake.  That morning, somehow, the mood of the workers had changed.  They were quiet and, instead of shouting to each other, they whispered here and there,  Curiously, I asked one of the men what had happened.

            “Haven’t you heard what is happening in Budapest?” asked the man, almost whispering.  “Every five minutes the radio plays the National Anthem.  Nobody is allowed to go out.  If they do, they will be killed.  On the radio, you can hear the machine-gun fire, and that means that there is something terrible going on in the capital.  They are shooting!”

            The cooperative store had a radio and I went in to find out if what the old man had whispered was true.  Feri, the store manager, told me that, on the orders of the Party Secretary, the radio was not to be turned on and he did not want to get into trouble.

            “Feri!  My whole family is in Budapest and I want to know if what I heard is true.  Anyway, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  I desperately want to hear the Budapest station!”

            I turned on the radio.  I heard the last chords of the National Anthem and, right after that, the following announcement:

            “Counter-revolutionary, reactionary elements have initiated an armed attack on our public buildings and attacked different AVH organizations.  In the interest of restoring order, until further notice all assemblies, gatherings and marches are forbidden.  The AVH organizations have received orders to enforce the law rigorously.  Announcement of the Hungarian People’s Advisory Board.” (15)

            In the background, a short round of machine-gunfire could be heard.  It was true!  They were fighting in Budapest. I knew my brothers well enough to know that they would take part in it and I felt that my place was with them.  I also knew that it was no use asking permission to go to Budapest because it would not be granted.  Therefore, without telling anybody, I jumped onto a tractor-trailer which was carrying sugar beets to the factory at Selyp.  Just before the factory, the railroad barrier was across the road and the train could be seen approaching.  The railway station was a good kilometer away and I did not know when the next train would go to Budapest, so I had to catch this one.  Running, soaked with perspiration, I hardly reached the last compartment but managed to grab the rail and climb up.  While the train was going to Budapest, I had plenty of time to rest.

            On the train, on which there was an unusually large number of people, I heard further news.  The Russian tanks were rolling into Budapest and there were battles in the streets of the capital.  The AVH had begun the fighting in the evening, when they fired into the crowd of demonstrators, leaving many dead and injured on the cobblestone streets.  In a matter of hours, the workers and students obtained guns and returned their fire.  The struggle now involved the entire city of Budapest against the AVH and the Russians.  Everyone was shouting, “Russians, go home!” and “Down with the AVH!” and they were calling for Imre Nagy to be Prime Minister,  That meant that truly the Revolution had broken out in Budapest.

            I also heard about the demonstration of the previous day – two hundred thousand people in front of the Parliament Building, where Imre Nagy spoke to the crowd.  At the statue of Bem, Imre Sinkovitz, an actor, recited the “Nemzeti Dal” (National Song) by Petöfi and, with a pocket knife, the Russian emblem was cut out of the Hungarian flag.  The statue of Stalin in Heroes Square was toppled and the university students stated their demands in sixteen points.  This morning the whole city was ringing with gunfire.

            I was afraid but could hardly wait to get home because I did not believe the stories I heard here and there.  I wanted to hear news of my brothers but, when I thought of them, my fear intensified.  Were they at home?  Or did they lie wounded or dead on one of the cobblestone streets?

            The train had been standing for more than two hours at the station at Gödöllő, when it was announced that this was the end of the line.  Because of the battles in Budapest, it could go no farther.  I did not know what time it was but it was well into the afternoon.  Many of us went out onto the highway and began to walk toward Budapest.  It was almost dusk when a truck picked up our little group and took us as far as the Kelet Station which we reached in darkness.  In the distance, I could hear gunshots and machine-gunfire but I saw no-one carrying arms.  I began to walk along Fiume Street to reach Soroksár Street, so that I could at least get to my brother Ernő’s apartment in Erzsébet.  Near the Kerepes Cemetery, I had to skirt a puddle of blood, the sight of which sent cold tremors down my spine.  Was it Hungarian or Russian blood?  It might have been from the AVH.  From the size of the puddle of blood, I concluded that whoever was injured here must have died.  He was a hero of one side or the other.  Again a terrible fear came over me.  As I continued, I heard the rumbling of the caterpillar chains of the tanks and I saw that the few people who were on the street disappeared.   I too hid in a gateway until the tanks had passed by.

            I saw the first fighters at the Űllö Avenue intersection when I was looking directly into their barrels.  A fourteen or fifteen year-old boy asked where I had come from and where I was going.  When I told him, four or five more boys came out of the doorways.  Then I realized that, not only the boy who had stopped me was aiming at me but five other carbines too.  They accompanied me for a while and told me more news. On Soroksár Street, I saw more fighters but few adults were among them.  My escorts stayed behind here and reminded me that there could be Russians or AVH men on Soroksár Street.  I should be especially watchful after Közvágo Bridge.

            It must have been midnight when I reached my brother Ernő’s apartment, which was located near the HEV railway station at Pesterzsébet.  In certain sections of this street, I had to proceed with a low crawl because around me bullets were flying from all directions.  At a time like this, a person is as flat as a pancake which sticks to the pan.  If until then I had not known how to pray, this street taught me.

            At my knock, my sister-in-law, Magdi, opened the door and exclaimed, “You finally arrived! Ödön and Bandi have already been here looking for you and they said that if you came, you should wait here for them.  Scarcely an hour ago, Ernő came home and, since he did not sleep a minute last night, he has just gone to bed.  He said that, if you came, I should wake him.  Are you hungry?  Sit down.  While I am preparing something to eat, I will tell you what happened yesterday and today.”

            Magdi told me that Ernő was at the Parliament Building with Imre Nagy and he reminded Imre Nagy that, if the AVH were to use arms at the Radio Station, there would be a blood bath.  She related that Ödön and Bandi were able to obtain guns from the lamp-factory and, at midnight on October 23, thousands of machine-guns were in the hands of the revolutionaries.  They said they were going to Corvin Circle and that, during the night, they would come back for me.  She also said that András was one of the boys who climbed up onto Stalin’s statue and tied the cable around its neck.  They toppled it so well that only the boots remained standing.  (Later on, Heroes Square was nicknamed Boots Square.)

            We were so involved in talking that we did not notice the time passing.  It must have been 2 a.m. when somebody knocked on the door.  Magdi recognized Ödön’s knock.  Ödön and Bandi came together.  We woke up Ernő and the four of us sat around the table.  With open mouth, I listened to my brothers talking.  Magdi made pancakes which reminded me of crawling along Soroksár Street.  I told them how I got here.  I asked them where Corvin Circle was.  Was it near the Corvin department store?  “No,” answered Ödön, “near the Corvin Cinema at the intersection of Űllö Avenue and Kör Avenue.”

            Ödön told us that at 4 a.m. on the morning of October 24, he and Bandi were in Buda at the Zsigmond Móricz Square, when from Fehérvár Avenue, a motor-cycle came and brought the news that the Russian tanks were coming.  They decided that they would stop them.  At the beginning of Fehérvár Avenue, not far from Kör Square, was the Post Office Garage, where they could obtain gasoline but they had nothing in which they could carry it.  A few houses farther on, in the construction company’s warehouse, they found some barrels.  With the help of the boys who joined them, they rolled five barrels back to the Post Office Garage, where they filled them with gasoline.  On the way, they met an employee of the Transit Corporation who was just going to work.  At his request, they related the events of the day, at which the employee answered, “It looks as if we are not going to work today, so I’m going home to sleep.  Here is my lunch, boys, you must be hungry.”

            In a brown paper bag were a few pieces of pork crackling and a piece of bread, which my brothers ate.  Bandi put the remaining two pieces of crackling in the bag into his pocket.  They rolled the five drums of gasoline to Fehérvár Avenue and waited.  When they heard the rumbling of the caterpillar chains, they unscrewed the plugs from the middle of the drums, so that the gasoline ran out of them.  The empty drums were left on the road.  The tanks were now very close.  Ödön and the boys disappeared from Kör Square.  Bandi hid behind a tree near Kör Square, where they had poured out the gasoline, with the bag of crackling in one hand and a cigarette lighter in the other, and waited.  When the first tank reached the gasoline-covered street, Bandi lit the bag and threw it onto the gasoline.  In a second, this part of the street looked like Hell.  The tanks stopped and the Russians tried to escape.  The empty gasoline tanks exploded which caused such panic among the Russians that, in the fire, they did not know which way to run.  They could not run far because their clothes soon caught fire.  Some of them burned to death.

            When the pillar of fire erupted, Bandi ran back to Kör Square, where Ödön and the boys were waiting.  Throughout the whole thing, not one single shot rang out but the sirens of the fire-engines could be heard approaching.  The boys stood in the street and stopped them.  They told them what was burning and the fire-chief sent the fire-engines back to the fire-station.

            “We knew that we could not stop the Russians from entering Budapest but, at least on this part of the street, we held them back and brought to their knowledge what they could expect if they occupied the city,” continued Bandi.  “We also knew that the Russians and the AVH, in the next few hours, would concentrate their attacks on Kör Square and its surroundings, therefore it was better that we disappear.

            “We came across to Pest.  We crossed the Freedom Bridge and, at Kalvin Square, we turned onto Űllö Avenue.  When we got to the corner of Kör Avenue, we saw a large group of men at the Kilián Barracks and we warned them and everyone else we met on the way, that the Russian tanks were coming and that they should build barricades.  Just then, a black Pobeda, with the license plate of a diplomat, came driving along very slowly.  A few of the fighters wanted to stop it but others called out that it was a diplomat’s car and that they should let it pass.  The boys stood aside from the street and signaled that the car could pass.  When the car reached Ferenc Boulevard, the occupants rolled down the windows and emptied their machine-guns into the crowd.  Everyone dived to the ground.  The chauffeur accelerated and took off in the direction of Boráros Square.  When we came to our senses, it had already disappeared from sight, leaving behind it eight dead and about twenty injured.

            “So they are shooting into the crowds from the cars of diplomats,” continued Ödön.  “We took the dead and the wounded to the Kilián Barracks where, except for a small number of guards, there are only drafted soldiers.  They gave first aid to the wounded and called the ambulances.  Everyone was upset at the base action which had taken place.  Many tried to get arms from the Kilián Barracks but there were only a few machine-guns which the guards were using.  Because of the attack from the car, twenty-five to thirty boys gathered there and they also had rifles and machine-guns.  It must have been afternoon when we heard the noise of the caterpillar chains approaching from Boráros Square.   Everybody disappeared from the street to find a place in which to take cover.  Two tanks and an armored car came along.  They let the tanks pass but, from all directions, they opened fire on the armored car.  They shot into the tires and it looked as if the driver was shot too, because it suddenly stopped at the intersection of Üllö Avenue and Kör Avenue.  Somebody threw a bottle of gasoline at it; some of the gasoline flowed into the car and some on the outside.  The Russians sitting inside did not dare to raise their heads because, if they did, they would catch a machine-gun bullet and fall dead.  They couldn’t even use the machine-gun which was on top of the car because the first person to die was the one using that machine-gun.

            “Suddenly, there was a deathly silence in the area.  All the weapons were silent.  From behind the advertising cylinder standing on the corner, an old man tottered out.  His overcoat, reaching almost to his ankles, was tied around the waist with string.  With slow steps, he went up to the armored car, his two hands in front of him, holding a matchbox in one hand and five or six matches in the other.  When he reached the armored car, he lit the gasoline which immediately sprang into flames.  He turned around and, as somebody who has done a good job, with slow steps again, he went back behind the advertising cylinder.

            “The crowd shouted, ‘The armored car is in flames!  Long live freedom!  Russians go home!’  Then more and more people shouted that we should save the machine-gun from the car.  The Russians were now all dead and the crowd came back onto the street.  Some of them went close to the armored car and tried to put out the fire with their coats.  On Ferenc Boulevard, fifty to sixty meters away, there was a box, full of sand which was used to slow down the streetcars in winter.  People took off their coats, women their fur coats; many of them emptied their handbags and carried the sand to stop the fire and save the machine-gun, which they accomplished in minutes.  Everybody hugged and kissed the old man. Their joy was unbelievable.  The first victory brought much crying and laughter.  Apart from the machine-gun from the car, the booty comprised of nine submachine-guns, two pistols and a few boxes of ammunition.  These weapons were distributed to those who needed them, now everyone who does not have a weapon is looking for one in Budapest.

            “We knew that the destruction of the armored car would bring retaliation.  Therefore we looked around the area for a place which could be well-defended against the attack of tanks or foot-soldiers and from which we could withdraw if it became necessary.  The Corvin Cinema is opposite the Kilián Barracks and it is surrounded by buildings four to five stories tall.  The streets leading into the area from Kör Avenue and Üllö Avenue are so narrow that a tank can’t even enter them.  Behind the cinema is a gas station and next to it is the Práter Street School which is now empty.  This group of buildings can be well defended and the intersection of Üllö Avenue and Nagy Boulevard presents an important strategic point.

            “The news of the destruction of the armored car and the capture of the machine-gun spread quickly throughout the area and many more armed youths arrived on the spot.  Everybody recognized that Corvin Circle was a place which was suitable for defense, so we decided to stay there.  There were about one hundred of us who were armed and small and large groups of armed youths continued to arrive.  We had to divide them up so that we would not all be in one place. . . I told a large group of them to go to the Kilián Barracks and post themselves at the windows which overlooked Nagy Boulevard.  I sent another group to the building directly opposite that one.  In other words, we prepared a well-defended firing position for the youths.  Bandi and I broke the lock of the gas station and the boys and girls brought about fifty empty bottles which we filled with gasoline and distributed to the youths stationed at the windows of the buildings.  We occupied those which looked out over the intersection of Kör Avenue and Üllö Avenue and we waited.  It must have been four o’clock when the word got around: ‘Two tanks are coming from the direction of Boráros Square.’

            “I was with Bandi at 82, József Boulevard, in a second-story window.  I called out, ‘Don’t shoot until you hear the first shot!’ and the command was passed on from one to the other.  I knew where my armed men were and we allowed the two tanks to enter the intersection.  Following the tanks, and protected by them, came forty Russian foot-soldiers, which meant that they were already using the infantry against us.  I was surprised that the Russian military leaders were so irrational because, from our well-defended position, we could shoot and the Russian infantrymen provided a perfect target.  I felt sorry for them but our dead and wounded came into my mind.  I pulled the trigger of my submachine-gun and such shooting broke out, the like of which I have only heard in wartime.  The foot-soldiers tried to hide under the tanks; the tanks, however, tried to move out of the line of fire.  When they reached the other side of the intersection there were no more foot soldiers.  They lay dead, strewn all over the street.  From the windows, a few bottles of gasoline flew among the shower of bullets.  The one tank caught on fire.  The other continued along Kör Avenue.  The upper trapdoor of the burning tank opened up and the Russian was killed as he tried to get out.  He caught bullets from every direction.  The tank came to a stop scarcely fifty meters from Corvin Circle and the soldiers operating it were burned to death.  Shouts of victory broke out so loud that the remaining unbroken windows resonated from the noise.  A few minutes later, the ambulances and fire-engines arrived.  The ambulances took about eight wounded to the hospital but we had three dead also.  The Russians, however, all remained there and we added forty or fifty machine-guns to our supply of firearms.  The ammunition remaining in the tank was picked up and taken to the foyer of the cinema.

            “We went home at 8 p.m. because we knew you were coming and we waited.  Only Bálint was here and he came back with us to Corvin.  He remained there and asked that we hurry back.”

            “Well, what are we waiting for?” I asked.  “It is already four o’clock.  Let’s go!”





            Magdi packed some food for us to take to Bálint and we made Ernő go back to bed in spite of all his objections.  If he could, he should come sometime in the morning to Corvin Circle, where he would find us.  Ödön, Bandi and I started out on foot toward Budapest.  I was honestly envious of my brothers because they had already experienced their baptism by fire and both had machine-guns.  I had no weapon at all and I felt honored when one or the other gave me his machine-gun to carry.  They assured me that soon I would have one too, and hopefully I would be able to use it.  Once in a while, an armed youth stopped us but, when we told him where we were going, he joined us because Corvin Circle was already well-known throughout Budapest.  In vain, I asked them for a weapon but nobody wanted to part with his gun.  At Boráros Square, a thirty year-old man gave me his Mauser rifle with two pocketsful of ammunition.  He went home to sleep.  I was so happy that I kissed the gun and I could hardly wait to experience the baptism by fire.  As we approached Corvin, we were stopped more often and, at the end of the journey, we were shouting, “Magyar, don’t shoot!”.   We went up to 82 József Boulevard, to the second floor, where my brothers had been stationed the previous afternoon.  The four windows of the two rooms looked out onto Kör Avenue and, out of the ten or twelve youngsters, just two were at the windows.  The rest were sleeping in armchairs, on the sofa or on the floor.  Ödön and Bandi went to look for Bálint and I stayed with the young people.  They told me to look for a place to lie down because, if they needed me, the noise of the guns would wake me anyway.

            It must have been about eight o’clock, when a boy woke me up.  One of them had gone down earlier to Corvin, where old men and women were distributing food to the revolutionaries.  They brought me an apple and a slice of larded bread wrapped in newspaper.  While I was eating, I talked to the boys and girls.  In the two rooms were three soldiers, six young people, sixteen to eighteen years old and a transportation worker.  Nobody knew the others’ names and didn’t even ask because it wasn’t really important.  We called each other by nicknames from some recognizable characteristic: Conductor, Spectacles, Clothcap, Hat, Little Soldier, Stump-hand, Tall-man and other names which appeared to suit the individual.  Some names stuck and nobody ever thought of objecting to the new name.  They called me “Mustache” and this name stayed with me to the end.  Among the youngsters, two were apprentices; the rest were high-school or first year university students.  For the drafted soldiers, who had escaped from the Kilián Barracks, this was the first time that they had had a gun in their hands.  In this group were many who had come to this spot on the morning of the 24th. when the armored car was destroyed.  They had already experienced baptism by fire.  Enthusiastically, with loud voices, they related the retaliation of the attack of the previous day.  Looking out of the window to the left, I saw the burned out armored car and to the right, a little farther up on Kör Avenue, the burned out tank.  I didn’t see any dead anywhere, and the boys explained that, during the evening, the Russian Red Cross trucks had come and picked up the dead.  Nobody bothered them.

            The silence which reigned in that area was broken by a shout coming from far away, which was repeated four or five times as it approached: “One tank and two trucks are coming from Boráros!”  Conductor went to the window and shouted: “One tank and two trucks are coming from Boráros!”  It was repeated three times.  We loaded our guns and everyone took his place in front of the windows.  We waited.  Ödön rushed into the room and told us that AVH men had taken one part of the Kilián Barracks which was located on Üllö Avenue.  He had sent a revolutionary group there too but only half of them had come back.  The others were captured.  Right then, we had to defend ourselves from the new attack and afterwards, we would go to get our comrades-in-arms from the Kilián Barracks.

            “Brother,” he said to me, “you couldn’t wait to experience the baptism by fire.  Now is your chance.  Be careful.  Stay down.  Don’t be a target for the Russians!”

            I could feel my heart beating in my throat.  The word “scared” does not express what I felt.  I don’t think there are any words in the dictionary which could express that feeling.  The Russians were coming and on Ferenc Boulevard, they were already being targeted.  The tank which came in front was shooting in every direction with 76 caliber bullets, and two machine-guns sprayed the windows.  Now, we too could shoot because they had reached the intersection.  I saw the barrel of the tank’s gun aiming at us.  The bullets hit the floor above us and plaster fell from the ceiling.  We went back to the windows and we saw the Russian soldiers running from tree to tree and doorway to doorway.  Ruszki foot soldiers!  In one doorway, I saw a Russian head looking into our street.  I aimed and pulled the trigger of my Mauser gun.  I saw the Russian soldier fall to the ground.  A terrible feeling came over me but it was no longer fear.  My fear had disappeared as soon as the fight began.  The knowledge that I had taken a man’s life aroused in me a feeling that I would not wish upon my mortal enemy.  I cried and pulled back to the back wall.  I could not stay there long, though, because the boys started to shout, “Mustache, don’t cry now.  The Ruszkis are coming.  Once we have turned back the attack, you will have time to cry.  Come on, give it to them!  They are attacking.  We are only defending ourselves.  If they didn’t attack us, there would be no bloodshed.  We have to keep Corvin.”

            I went back to the window.  The tank was directly below us and moving forward at a walking pace.  There was firing from all directions from the tank’s gun and from the machine-guns.  A couple of bottles of gasoline were thrown but the tank did not catch fire.  There was a box of hand-grenades which I threw one after the other but they did not explode.  Ödon took out his handkerchief, took the cork out of a bottle of gasoline and poured gasoline onto his handkerchief.  He wrapped the corner of the handkerchief around the cork and pushed it back into the bottle, so that the handkerchief, soaked with gasoline, was hanging on the side of the bottle.  I set fire to the handkerchief and the soldier who was holding the bottle threw it at the same time.  Bull’s-eye!  The tank, which had already caught five bottles of gasoline, burst into flames.  The firing stopped and it tried to escape at full speed.  Hardly a hundred meters from there, it stopped and a few Russian soldiers jumped out of it, their clothes burning.  When they reached the ground, they lay down but could no longer move.  From all directions, showers of bullets rained on them.  Both trucks ran up onto the sidewalk and stopped.  The drivers were shot.  The one truck was pulling a 76 caliber cannon.  (Picture 2)  By some miracle, these trucks did not explode although they were full of ammunition.  The one was full of splinter grenades for the 76 caliber gun, the other with bullets for machine-guns and submachine-guns.  We picked up from the Russians fifty or sixty carbines and sub-machine-guns.  With unbelievable speed, these weapons found new masters – revolutionaries and drafted soldiers who were waiting for guns.  The firing power of Corvin Circle grew stronger.

            It became quiet in that area.  Only from Üllö Avenue came a few shots and rounds of machine-gunfire.  The silence on Kör Avenue could rightly be called a deathly silence.  Russian dead were lying everywhere.  I felt sorry for them but my comrade’s words came into my mind: “They are attacking; we are just defending.  If they did not attack, the blood would not flow. . .”

            Ernő Gerő and his clique called in the Russians to secure the power for a few scoundrels, at the price of massacring the whole nation, if necessary.  So, if the Russians entered that game and were now getting the short end of it, it was hardly our fault.  It was our home and it was our duty to defend it.  The refrain of a song that my mother used to sing came into my mind.  She had set a poem of Sándor Reményik to music: “We shall die, but we shall fight to the end.”  So be it.  It was not our lives that were important, but the freedom of the Hungarian nation.

            I spoke to the boys and girls and felt that I had to explain to them why I had cried earlier.  When the subject came up, one boy asked if I thought I was the only one who had gone through this.  He too, and probably everyone else when he saw his first dead person, felt as I did.  This is war!  For the country!  “What did you say earlier?  We shall die but we shall fight to the end!”  Another boy spoke and said it didn’t matter if he died.  What was important was that he would have many servants in the next world.  “Do you remember Lehel’s bugle?[24]  It is certain that I will not give my life cheaply.  They will pay for it dearly!”

              In the morning battle, our casualties consisted of one seriously injured and two slightly injured.  The seriously injured boy was taken to the hospital, the two slightly injured were bandaged and remained.  Ödön went down to Corvin right after the battle and called for the ambulance.  He had not yet come back, although more than half an hour had elapsed.  From the window, I saw Ernő, Bandi and Bálint in the company of about twenty other revolutionaries, dismantling the cannon and dragging it toward the Corvin Cinema.  Armed and unarmed youths carried the ammunition into the lobby of the cinema.

Picture 2. (p.61)

The two trucks were later on blown up by the Russian tanks.

It was almost noon and during the past half-hour we had heard gunshots from the direction of Üllö Avenue but we did not see any tanks.  I told the boys that I was going down to the Corvin Cinema to see what was happening.

            As I turned the corner of Kisfaludy Circle, I saw a fighter lying lifeless on the sidewalk.  He could hardly have been seventeen years old.  In front of Number 2, Kisfaludy Circle, three more boys were stretched out.  I looked for Ödön, whom I found at the gas pump.  He was filling bottles and several others were helping him.  They tore up towels into one-inch strips and tied them to the necks of the bottles.  Beside the gas pump was the 76-cannon.  In the Kilián Barracks were AVH men and they had been shooting since the morning.  The cannon had been brought here so that we could shoot three or four times at them.  They had almost shot Bandi.  He was lucky because, as he ran along Üllö Avenue beside the wall,  the bullets hit the wall in front of him and he got dust in both his eyes.  He could not see a thing.  His comrades took him to the first-aid station where Doc washed out the dust.  He remained there.

            “Boys!” said Ödön, “Can you do without me?  Tie the strips around the necks of the bottles like a bow-tie.  I will come back later.  Fill all the bottles.  It will be enough if you tie the strips on every fourth bottle.  If somebody comes for gasoline bottles (Molotov cocktails), give him some and show him how to use them.”

            In the meantime, boys and girls brought empty bottles in laundry baskets.  They said that, when they knocked on the apartment doors and asked for empty bottles, some of the housewives even emptied out the bottles of tomato-juice that they had preserved for the winter and they were able to get bottles from everyone when they told them what they wanted to use them for.

            We went to the first-aid station, where I became acquainted with Doc and Chubby, our two doctors, and also Zsuzsa, Erzsi and Scruffy who were helping the doctors while there was no fighting going on.  Bandi was now completely better and he told us what had happened.  About fifteen injured were lying on the beds but none of them was seriously injured.  Ten others, who were more seriously injured, had already been taken to the hospital.

            When we came out of the first-aid station, we saw a little group in front of the cinema.  We went over to them.  Two thirteen to fourteen year-old girls and an old woman were distributing larded bread to the fighters, from a laundry basket.  We too, received a good slice of larded bread with green peppers.  From the cinema and the surrounding buildings came revolutionaries and the contents of the laundry basket soon disappeared.  Together with the food, we also received encouragement from the old woman who told us that her grandchildren also wanted to do something to help the Revolution.

            Ödön and Bandi took me around Corvin to show me the whole area.  We also went into the Práter Street School, where we found about a hundred and fifty fighters stationed.  They showed us the kitchen in the basement where they could cook for four hundred people.  During his university days, Ödön had come here to eat.  In the school, I met Jutka who, the boys told me, was a doctor.  She had a submachine-gun on her shoulder.  We talked.  She told me that she had taken her six-month old son to her sister and she had come to Corvin with her husband Attila.  When I asked her why she did not go to the first aid station to the injured, she answered that she had just graduated and that she had no experience.  I convinced her that, when there was a lull in the fighting, she should go to the first-aid station to help Doc and Chubby.  However, she did not want to be separated from her weapon.

            There was so much to do but I saw that, with a little organization, we could get the important things done and ensure better circumstances for our comrades.  I told Bandi to go to the Közvágo Bridge slaughterhouse where he had been an apprentice during the war, and get us some meat.  He should bring straw too, which we could spread on the floor of the cinema and the school rooms so that people could lie down.  “Take with you as many boys and girls as you need and get a truck from somewhere!”  I said.

            Bandi left and we looked for a cook.  A 25-26 year-old man, who used to cook for the military, volunteered his services.  Splendid!  We sent him down to the kitchen to prepare for the arrival of the food so that he could start cooking at once.  We met Ernő and Bálint, who had brought all the ammunition into the cinema.  I told Ernő that we had a cook, that Bandi had gone for meat and now we needed bread.  They should go and look for a baker and tell him that they needed bread for the Corvinists.  We would pay him after the battle.  They should bring 25-30 two-kilo loaves.

            We went to the gasoline-pump from where the bottles were being taken as fast as they could be filled.  In every building where revolutionaries were stationed, there was also gasoline.  The 76-cannon was manned by Peg-leg Jancsi, who had four helpers.  I asked him if he needed more help.  Jancsi said that he did not need any help but that the cannon was not in the right place.  It moved out of position after every shot and it defended only Üllö Avenue.  It should face Kör Avenue because the tanks came from there.  Jancsi also mentioned that a “tall colonel” had come to the Kilián Barracks with five tanks.  Four of them went away and one reversed  into the gateway of the Kilián Barracks.  Out of this tank came the “tall colonel”.  Since his arrival, there was silence.

            It was early afternoon when we heard some shouting.  “Four tanks are coming from Boráros!”  The shout went from man to man.  Within minutes, the revolutionaries disappeared into the buildings.  The cinema and the school emptied.  Everybody took his place except us.  We could not return to 82 József Boulevard because the Russians kept Kör Avenue under heavy fire.  Ödön and I went into a small alley where there were a few boys already.  Two tanks and an armored car came down Üllö Avenue but we could not look out from the alley because there was shooting again from the Kilián Barracks.

            Two boys were watching the windows of Kilián and sometimes they fired toward them.  One of them ran to get bottles of gasoline and hand-grenades.  The Russians were shooting the most from the armored car, which was coming very slowly because both front tires were punctured.  I told Ödön to go up into one of the building because it would be easier to throw the Molotov cocktails from there.  Two tanks passed in front of us.  The one caught a Molotov cocktail and burned.  Suddenly an enormous explosion shook the air.  The ammunition in the burning tank had exploded.  The revolving tower, which flew about twenty meters, fell into the earlier destroyed armored car and crushed everything.  The armored car, which was moving slowly, suddenly stopped and I saw that it was fifteen meters from me.  A revolutionary, standing near an advertising cylinder, suddenly leaned out and threw a hand-grenade at it.  I ducked behind the cylinder so that I would not be injured but the explosion was quite muffled.  The hand-grenade had fallen inside the armored car and exploded there.  I ran across to the boy who had destroyed the armored car and embraced him.  The other tank went away and Üllö Avenue became silent except for a few shots which came from the Kilián Barracks.  We could hear the firing of hand guns and the heavy guns of the tanks firing on Kör Avenue.

Picture 3. (p.65)

The T-54 tank without the revolving tower.  On the right, the Corvin Cinema and the alley between Üllö Avenue and Corvin can be seen.

            I ran in front of the cinema where a girl was standing in the middle of Kisfaludy Circle, firing short rounds at a tank.  I stopped on the corner under cover of a wall and I shouted to the girl that she should come to me.  When she came, I showed her that from beside the wall she could get a better shot because the wall would support the barrel of the gun and, at the same time, she had some protection.  A hand-grenade tore the caterpillar chain off the tank and the tank had to stop.  It was hardly ten meters from the entrance to Kisfaludy Circle and it was firing in all directions with the cannon and machine-guns.  Somebody said that there were four people dead on the fourth floor of Number 2, Kisfaludy Circle, from where the tank could be destroyed with the Molotov cocktails, but nobody wanted to go there.

            I saw Ödön coming and shouted to him to bring a box full of gasoline bottles.  At the entrance of house number 2, there were others who related the situation and explained again that no-one wanted to go up there because of the four dead.  Ödön came back with a box of gasoline bottles and we went up to the fourth floor.  Two others came with us.  They carried the gasoline and showed us which room had two windows right above the tank.  In the doorway, a little family episode took place.  Ödön grabbed me and did not let me pass through the door.  He said that I was still young; I should live.  He would go in.

            “Ödön,” I answered, “You are the eldest in the family and you have a responsibility toward your younger brothers.  Don’t be afraid; I will fight with you for a long time.”  I pushed the door open but an overturned armchair would not allow it to open fully.  There was just enough room for me to climb in and move the chair.  The boys had already brought the gasoline bottles.  Ödön poured gasoline onto the rag which was around the bottle’s neck and lit it.  I climbed over the overturned armchair but, when I reached the middle of the room, I felt the carpet sinking under me.   I automatically raised my arm and the bottle over my head and I fell down into the dining-room of the floor below.  As I fell, the cork fell out of the bottle and the burning gasoline  poured over my back.  Ödön called to me from above to tell me to take off the rubber coat but the bottle of gasoline  was still in my hand.  I stepped to the window, saw the tank beneath me and threw the bottle onto it.  Then I quickly took off the rubber coat with the help of Ödön who had jumped down to me.  The boys upstairs threw three more bottles to us which Ödön caught and threw to me at the window.  I did not see where the first bottle landed but I heard the shouts of the boys: “The tank is burning.”  We threw another three Molotov cocktails whose rags did not have to be lit.  A few minutes later, the shouts of victory rang out.

            When we came down from the building, about fifty people were waiting for us.  The happiness and joy reflected in those faces cannot be described.  They embraced us, kissed and congratulated us.  I thought that they must be just as happy as I was when one of my comrades threw the hand-grenade into the armored car.  We had just won another battle and, if we continued like that, the victory of the Revolution would be ensured.

            Ödön left and I went to the first-aid station to find out the extent of our losses.  Five dead and about a dozen injured.  The doctor was taking a fragment out of one boy’s thigh without an anesthetic.  The boy was biting down on a twisted piece of rag and did not even groan.  Doc wanted to send him to the hospital but he objected:

            “There is nothing wrong with me.  Why should I go to the hospital?  You need me here.  I am not going anywhere!  I am staying here!  Doc, please let me stay!”

            He climbed down from the table on which Doc did his operations and limped toward the door.  Suddenly, he started to shout, “Where is my gun?  Who took my gun?”

            At the first-aid station, there were always some unarmed revolutionaries who were waiting for the injured to come in and, if Doc or Chubby said that somebody was going to the hospital, they took his weapon immediately.  This boy’s gun had disappeared too and he, who a few minutes earlier had allowed the doctor to remove a fragment without an anesthetic and without even a groan, began to cry.  It was not the wound or the pain but the disappearance of his gun that caused the tears to flow.  In vain, we tried to console him with the promise of another gun; he needed one right then.  I gave him my Mauser gun which consoled him.  Then I was left without a weapon.  I took the blade from a broken Russian bayonet and put it into my boot.  I was thinking that, that too was a weapon and, until I could get myself a machine-gun, at least I would have something with me.

            I left the first-aid station, accompanied by Doc.  He had seen to the injured and, at that moment, there was no more work for him.  We talked.  There was a lot of people coming and going in front of the cinema.  Peg-leg Jancsi, Cannonball Gyurka, the Conductor, who had only two fingers on his left hand and a few others were dragging the 76-cannon from the gasoline pump to the front of the cinema.  I could hear Ödön directing that operation because he had the loudest voice.  True, he always had a loud voice.  They set the feet of the cannon against the steps of the cinema, so that it would not move.  Ödön went to look for a rope to tie onto the trigger of the cannon, so that the boys hidden in the Cinema could activate the gun from the building.  He went to ask the janitor for a rope and the janitor stated in a worried tone, “I hope you are not going to hang somebody!”  Ödön reassured him and told him why he wanted the rope.  In the basement, they found a cable, which was better than nothing, so they used that.  The other end of the cable led to the ticket booth, through the window.  Ödön sent a boy to a tree which was beside the Valeria coffee-house and aimed the cannon so that he was able to see the knees of the boy.  We knew that the Russians only brought shrapnel as ammunition, so the 76-cannon was misnamed an anti-tank gun.  To pierce the armored tank, armor-piercing shells were needed and they did not have them.  The shrapnel shells were good enough to tear off the chains of the caterpillar tanks.

            I told Ödön that we should think of placing revolutionaries equipped with sufficient quantities of bottles of gasoline in the windows of every building on József Boulevard, at least for a distance of 150 meters from the corner.  Once the caterpillar chain was broken, we would have to finish off the tank quickly so that the guns could not be used against us.  It would not be able to go farther but, like an animal, it could be more dangerous if wounded.

            Doc and I went to the Práter Street School, where I was recognized and where, during the afternoon, respect for me had grown.  Everybody called me “Mustache”.  They said that here, too, were some slightly injured people.   I asked Doc, since he was still in the uniform of First Lieutenant, to send Jutka or Chubby to the school.  Jutka came across that same evening and set up in one of the classrooms.  From the workers’ hostel on Kisfaludy Street, the boys brought fifteen beds and straw mattresses.  Now we had two first-aid stations. 

            Doc and I went down to the kitchens, where we smelled fine food cooking.  Bandi had come back a long time ago from the Közvágó Bridge slaughterhouse, with six carcasses of pork and some straw.  Ernő and Bálint, with the help of two boys, brought four sacks of bread.  The cook found some help too, some women and a girl.  “We will have pork paprikás for supper.  It will be ready in half an hour,”  he said.  The kitchen was properly equipped and those who worked there were in white coats and aprons.  Some people were sitting in the dining area.  They were hungry and waiting for supper.

            We sat down beside a blond, curly-haired young man, about twenty-three years old, and we talked.  He was a medical student in his fourth year.  His name was Szabó.  He was the leader of a group of about thirty people, the majority of them students.  He lived not far from Corvin and, from the beginning, he had fought with the Corvinists.

            “Do you know this area well?”  I asked him.

            “Of course I know it,” he answered.  “I grew up here.  Why do you ask?”

            “Corvin, as you can see, can hold its own.  Up to now, we have repelled every attack and we are getting stronger by the hour.  Not only are we well-equipped with weapons and ammunition brought by the Russians, but men are continually joining us in groups of various sizes.  There is still an important task waiting to be accomplished and I believe that you are the one who can do it best.  We need to get some reliable people to serve as guards around Corvin. We need to form a company of guards to check the area night and day.  Will you do it?”

            “Of course, I will do it.  It is really very important.  I am already on my way to post my men,” he said.

            “Wait.  Eat first, because supper will be here in a minute.  After that, send the others down, so that they can eat too,”  I told him.

            After supper, Doc and I took a bowl of paprikás to the first-aid station and from there, I went to the cinema, where I told my comrades that they should go in two groups to get supper.  The cannon was already in position and the people who handled it were ready.  They were practicing.  Cannonball Gyurka said that they were able to reload it in twenty seconds but that was not yet good enough.  They would continue to practice until they could reload it in ten seconds.

            It was late in the evening when I met Szabó, the commander of the company of guards, at the cinema where I was talking with the young people.  Many of them were already sleeping on the straw that Bandi had brought from the Közvágó Bridge.  There were boys and girls and among them a few older people too.  Szabó said that the guards were in place.  He had arranged for them to be relieved every three hours.  He asked if I would like to go and see them. 

            We went along Kör Avenue where, every sixty to seventy meters, we were stopped by the shout, “Halt!  Who goes there?”  We spoke for a few minutes with every guard.  From the windows of the buildings came the question, “What is happening?”  We talked to them too.  The news of the supper spread fast and everyone went to eat.  I told the fighters that, except for one man at the window, everyone should go to sleep.  They should relieve each other at the window.  I asked everywhere if there was enough ammunition, gasoline bottles and hand-grenades.  If they did not have enough, they should go to the cinema where they would be given some.  I told them never to go all together at one time to the kitchen to eat.  Half the group should always remain in its position because we never knew when the Russians would attack.

            When we had gone almost as far as Rákoczi Square, we crossed to the other side of Kör Avenue and came back toward Corvin.  Everybody was in his place and I had the impression that we did not have to worry about these youngsters.  They knew exactly what they were about.

            We returned to 82 József Boulevard, to the group from which I had started.  They knew that I had my nose into everything.  I was always organizing.  The Conductor said that it had given everybody great pleasure to see the tank burn.  I reminded him that, the next day, we were going to destroy every tank which came into Kör Avenue.  The 76-cannon was positioned in front of the cinema and it would tear off the chains from the tanks.  They should be ready with plenty of bottles and hand-grenades.  They should not let the crippled tank continue to shoot.  “Give it gasoline.  Every tank will be like a wounded boar.  The sooner you can destroy it, the fewer losses it will cost us.”  The Conductor said that there were three boxes of gasoline bottles and plenty of hand- grenades.  The tanks would actually come not tomorrow but today, because it was already almost 4 a.m.

            In Corvin Circle also, a guard was posted on every corner and in every doorway.  Even at the door of the first-aid station, stood a fighter with a submachine-gun.  He said that Doc was looking for me and wanted to talk to me.  When I went inside, Doc was awake and he told me that, around midnight, the boy, to whom I had given my gun, came back.  He had obtained a sub-machine-gun and left the Mauser here.  He made Doc promise to give it to nobody but “Mustache”.





            Early in the morning, the attack began and we were just about ready for it.  The boys on Kör Avenue were well-provided with arms, ammunition and gasoline bottles and everyone was waiting in his place.  It was scarcely dawn, when shouts could be heard from Kör Avenue:  “Four tanks from the direction of Boráros!”  I ran to 82 József Boulevard to the second floor, where they squeezed me in at one of the windows.

            We were all scared.  We knew that this day would bring intense battles and we were afraid that, by the evening, we might be one of the statistics on the list of the dead or wounded.  The tanks came very slowly.  They often stopped and we waited anxiously to have this attack behind us.  These were the most hair-raising moments, in the anticipatory time before the attacks, when time seemed to stand still and stretch into eternity.  Although we were prepared to die, the fear of death came over us.  When we were in the battle, we had no time to be scared.  At that time, the battle engaged all our attention and all fear disappeared.  We thought only of the battle and of the destruction of the Russian tanks.

            The 76-cannon in front of the cinema was loaded and waiting to be fired.    Cannonball Gyurka, who was a student at the Institute of Technology, stood beside the steps of the cinema, behind a little fountain in which a statue in human form protected him.  It provided a good cover looking in from Kör Avenue.  He was visible from the ticket-booth, where Peg-leg Jancsi held the cable, the end of which was tied to the trigger of the cannon.  Cannonball Gyurka, with one hand in the air, was watching the tree beside the Valeria coffee-house.  As the first tank was passing the tree, Gyurka dropped his arm down and shouted, “Fire!”

Picture 4. (p.71)

The 76-cannon was fired 17 times on October 26.   Instead of the laurel wreath, the “Prolongolva” sign was hung on it.

            The tank jumped and fell back into its original place.  Bull’s-eye!  The caterpillar chain did not tear off completely but was heavily damaged.  The driver of the tank stepped on the gas but, after seventy to eighty meters, perhaps because of the sudden speed, the chain broke and the tank ran off it.  By then, it was already burning and it did not present a danger.  After the firing, Gyurka jumped out, opened the chamber and the empty shell fell out.  The Conductor was there with a new bullet which he was holding in his left hand.  With his right hand, he held the end of the cartridge.  He put the new bullet into the barrel and pushed it with his right hand.  Gyurka was back in his place, watching the tree.  The Conductor shouted, “Ready!”  The lock of the gun closed automatically.  He ran back to the cinema.  After the first shot, only a few seconds could have elapsed before Gyurka shouted for the second time, “Fire!” and “Bull’s-eye!”  The chain of the tank broke and, almost under our window, the tank began to turn in circles.  It caught five Molotov cocktails and burst into fire.  The Russians climbed out of there but they could not get far in the shower of bullets which was aimed at them.  Some of their clothes were burning because cotton absorbs gasoline.  The Russians burned black and shrank.  The other two tanks which had just arrived at the intersection, turned left onto Üllö Avenue and sped off in the direction of Kalvin Square.  They must have seen what had happened to the first two tanks and thought it better to run away.

            Again, the excitement of victory came over us.  We had every reason to be happy with repelling the attack for we did not even have any injured.  The Russians, on the other hand, lost two T-34 tanks, fully manned.

            We did not have much time to enjoy our victory because we heard another shout: “Three tanks from Boráros!”  Those who had gone out onto Kör Avenue to check the destroyed tanks, disappeared into the buildings in minutes.  Everyone was in position.  The three tanks appeared on Kör Avenue and, just like the others, approached very slowly.  Well before the intersection, they were caught in a shower of bullets which forced them to speed up.  They traveled close together and opened fire in every direction with the fullest force that their guns and machine-guns could muster.  The deafening machine-gunfire  and the booming of the cannons, in addition to the noise of the shells hitting the houses, was just horrible.  Now, instead of fear, impatience took hold of me and I could hardly wait for them to come close to me.  When the tank reached the entrance to Corvin, Cannonball Gyurka again shouted, “Fire!”  The tank stopped for a second and then started again but stopped firing.  The second tank was so close to the first that it was almost impossible to reload the cannon and fire in time.  Those handling the cannon performed a miracle.  This time, there were hardly eight seconds between the two shots.  The second tank also received a deadly wound and a few Molotov cocktails.  The third tank detoured around the two destroyed tanks and, covered by them, accelerated and got away in front of us.  The first two tanks, however, were burning and only one or two Russians jumped out.  The third tank might have also received  a bull’s-eye because, one hundred meters farther down, it was burning and had stopped for good.  It was finished.

Picture 5.(p.73)

Three of the destroyed Soviet tanks.  The picture could have been taken from the second floor of 82, József Boulevard.

            It was just past 11 o’clock, when the weapons were silenced and, for the second time, shouts of victory rang out on Kör Avenue.  The repelling of the second attack that day was even more successful than the first.  Three tanks out of  three!  Later on, I learned that, on Üllö Avenue, there was another destroyed tank.  That too came with all guns firing but it caught a few Molotov cocktails on Tűzoltó Street.  It was destroyed before it came to the intersection.  Unfortunately, we also suffered heavy losses from this tank.

            The revolutionaries who told us this were thrown out of the Kilián Barracks onto Üllö Avenue on the orders of Colonel Maléter, just as the burning tank was coming.  Maléter shot two revolutionaries with his own pistol in the Kilián Barracks and only twenty-one, out of the twenty-eight unarmed revolutionaries, were able to return to Corvin from Kilián.  Seven unarmed comrades fell as they were fired on from the tank, as a result of Maléter’s mercilessness, and this action caused his own death sentence.  It was the irony of fate that this judgment was passed on him by his own comrades in 1958.  With this action, they tried to make Colonel Maléter into a martyr rather than a traitor in the history of the Hungarian Revolution.  After the victory of the Revolution, he could not have avoided this fate, because he would have answered for his sins in an independent court, as did his comrades in the AVH.  The mill of God grinds slowly but surely. (16)                                                                   Picture 6. (p.75)

In the picture, four out of seven coffins can be seen.  Three of them are hidden by the destroyed Russian tank,  If Maléter was a hero, were these men traitors?

            We mourned our comrades but even so, the morning’s two victories kept the morale of the Corvinists at a high level.  The machine-guns and carbines of the Russian soldiers soon disappeared.  These new weapons strengthened our side.  New fighters joined the old ones and we saw that, instead of weakening us, the Russian attacks strengthened us.  They brought the weapons and ammunition for our defense; we provided only the gasoline.  There were plenty of people waiting for weapons because everyone felt it was a honor to become a Corvinist.  In vain, we tried to chase home the twelve and thirteen year-old children but they simply would not go.  Our numbers grew from hour to hour.  Many people came out of curiosity, when they heard of the results of the fights around Corvin Cinema.  Many became heroes out of curiosity.  The fame of Corvin Circle spread through Budapest and the boys and girls continued to arrive.  It is an interesting phenomenon that courage is just as contagious as fear.  The curious person had only to talk for a few minutes with a Corvinist and see the results of the fights and he wanted to find a weapon for himself.  He became a Corvinist and stood his ground just like an “old one”.  Once someone was initiated, he could not be chased away.  Our goal was public knowledge – the freedom of the Hungarian nation.  To the boys and girls who took up arms in those days, patriotism was not just a slogan but was felt deeply in their hearts.  They were ready to sacrifice their lives for their country and for freedom.  Many of them did just that; may their memory be blessed.

            After scarcely an hour of intermission, groups of various sizes came to the tanks.  It was late afternoon when the Russian attacks ended.  Seventeen times during the day, Cannonball Gyurka shouted to Peg-Leg Jancsi, “Fire!”  Not one of the seventeen shots hit the wall of the Valeria Coffee House.  Every bullet hit its mark.  By evening, the area around Corvin became a tank cemetery and, among the tanks, a few trucks and armored cars.  Our booty was again weapons, ammunition, 76-cannons and two anti-aircraft guns.  We set up one 76-cannon at the entrance to the Práter Street School, so that we could work it under cover of the entrance. It, too, was facing Kör Avenue.

Picture 7. (p.76)

The 76-cannon standing in front of the Práter Street School.

   We dragged the two anti-aircraft guns beside the cinema but we did not use them. Picture 8. (p.77)

The inside of Corvin Circle, the two anti-aircraft guns and the passageway. . .

            The entrance to Kisfaludy Street from Üllö Avenue was protected by a larger caliber 122-cannon.  We became stronger and it is a fact that the morale grew stronger too.  True, the fact that Ödön had seen a piano in one of the apartments and asked permission to play, surely added to the high level of our spirits.  The windows around Corvin were opened and we could hear Ödön singing, accompanied by the piano.  He was singing the poem by Sándor Reményik which mother had set to music.  The boys picked up the refrain and, later on, here and there, people could be heard singing:

            “We shall die but we shall fight to the end.”

            It was already getting dark.  From a distance, we could hear the firing of weapons but, around Corvin, it was silent.  On the pavement of Kör Avenue, Russian dead were strewn all around and some of the destroyed tanks were still smoking.  Exhaustion overcame all of us because, on that day, we had suffered the strongest Russian attack so far.  Some of us were sitting on the steps of the cinema, chatting about the events of the day when, from Kör Avenue, a revolutionary came, still breathing heavily from running, who said excitedly:

            “On the other side of Kör Avenue, about one hundred meters farther up, two revolutionaries went into a ladies’ hairdresser’s shop so that they could sit down and reload their machine-guns.  I was with them but I did not enter.  From the shop, two shots were heard and now two of our comrades are lying there, injured.  They need immediate help because they are bleeding to death.  There could be AVH men or Russians in the shop.”

            Seven of us started out for the beauty salon to bring back our wounded comrades.  We crossed to the other side of Kör Avenue and, in single file, flattened to the wall, we stealthily approached the shop.  I was in front.  We were unable to throw hand-grenades in there because of our injured but one of us had to go in there and bring them out.  When we reached the door, I stopped and said to the fighter behind me, “Shall I go in there while you cover me or will you go in there while I cover you?”

            “I will go in, Mustache.  You cover me,” answered my partner.

            I stepped across in front of the door with my gun loaded and ready to fire, knelt down by the display window and waited.  When the boy stepped through the door, about three meters from me, somebody shot a short round of machine-gunfire.  The boy fell and I shot in the direction of the firing.  When the second boy went in, the shooting came from the other direction.  I again fired in the direction from which the firing came.  A third received a short round of fire, to which I answered again with shooting.  The fourth, fifth and sixth caught it too.  I remained alone and my weapon was empty.  An indescribable fear came over me, a feeling that I shall never forget.  I had feared at other times but this was different.  I trembled with cold shivers.  Was it the fear of death?  It was possible!  One had to feel it to understand.  It is impossible to write about that feeling.

            My thoughts became confused and all I knew was that I had to escape.  I ran farther along Kör Avenue and I ducked into the third or fourth doorway where, a few meters from me, a light was on.  It bothered me and seemed to cause my fear to increase.  I had to force myself to reload my Mauser gun and only on the fourth shot was I able to shoot out the bulb so that I could remain in darkness but, even in the darkness, I was shivering.  Time seemed to have stood still.  I could hear my pulse in my throat, pounding like gunfire.  I thought that the Russians would surely take Kör Avenue and Corvin.  Everything was over.  I peeked out of the door to see if anyone was coming and to hear what language he spoke, Hungarian or Russian.  I waited.

            A little while later, I heard voices.  My nerves strained to hear.  They were speaking Hungarian.  I wanted to speak but my throat was so dry that not a sound came out.  I struggled and finally I faltered, “Boys!”

            Three revolutionaries with machine-guns came to me, recognized me and could see that I was still shaking.

            “Mustache, what’s wrong with you?  Are you injured?  You can hardly stand!”  They looked at me wonderingly.

            I gathered the saliva in my mouth and swallowed so that I could speak.  The boys supported me on both sides and took me toward the beauty salon.  They said there had been a lot of shooting there and they had come to see what had happened.  When we got there, several ambulances were standing there and armed revolutionaries were coming from every direction.  They were bringing the dead and injured out of the shop and carrying them to the ambulances on stretchers.  There were Russians, AVH men and our comrades, fourteen in all.  My nerves completely failed me.  The tension of the action at the hairdresser’s after the events of that day was just too much.  I was crying out loud.

            My comrades took me into Corvin, where four doctors decided to send me to the hospital.  They could not stop me crying.  I objected in vain.  Ödön, Attila and someone else pushed me into the ambulance and took me to the Army Hospital on Károly Robert Avenue.  My sobs were still undiminished.  A military doctor, a major, who now lives in England, brought half a handful of pills with a glass of water.  However, before I took the pills, Ödön made the doctor swear that they were nothing more than relaxants and sleeping pills.  He gave his word that we could leave the hospital the following morning.  They also received sleeping pills and we all slept the whole night through.

            Now, even after more than twenty-five years,[25] I can still say that that was the most bitter episode of the revolution for me.





            The doctor kept his word.  During the night there came an order that the civilians should not be discharged from the hospital.  Therefore, he transferred us to another hospital, which we had to get to on our own.  “When you leave this building, you can go wherever you want,” said the doctor, and he gave us all a paper.  We shook hands and thanked him for what he had done for us.

                                                            Document (p.80)

            By showing the document which the doctor had given us, we went through the gate without any trouble.  The night’s sleep or the drugs had had a good effect.  Completely refreshed, we started back toward Corvin Circle.  The only thing that bothered me was that I did not have a weapon of any kind.  I looked for every opportunity to obtain some kind of weapon.  On the street, I tried to convince the boys that they were tired and that they should go home and sleep and give their weapon to me but I got no results.  Nobody wanted to part from his weapon.

            On one corner, one of our comrades disappeared.  He walked away and did not even say good-bye, although we would not have held him back.  A few houses down, Attila stopped too, and said:

            “Boys!  In my family, about which I do not wish to talk right now, I have connections in high circles who might be able to help us.  I might be able to get to the Government and even to the Russian City Commander and I might be able to convince them to call a cease-fire where we could sit down and negotiate.  What do you say to that?”

            “Attila, I think the Russians would want to stop the bloodshed as much as we do.  I agree with you.  Try it.  If you succeed in reaching the Russian commander, ask for a cease-fire and suggest negotiations but don’t negotiate with them.  You go there as an envoy from Corvin Circle, who takes messages and brings them back.  Wherever  you can get in, to the Government or to the Russians, just tell them that the commanders of Corvin Circle are willing to sit down and negotiate with them to stop the bloodshed.  You should come back to Corvin and tell us what you have accomplished.  There is nothing to lose by this  and maybe we could gain a lot.  Don’t you agree Ödön?

            Ödön had no objection to the plan, so Attila left and I asked God to make him successful.  The two of us continued our walk.

            We must have been close to Corvin, when an injured Russian soldier was brought out of a house on a stretcher to an ambulance which was waiting on the street.  I went over to search him because I thought I might find a weapon under the mattress.  I had not even reached him, when I thought I saw a shadow approaching me from the left and I automatically turned my head.  Somebody with a knuckle-band on his hand tried to hit me on the temple and the skin near my eye was torn for about two centimeters.  To cover himself, the man shouted in front of everybody:

            “Don’t hurt an injured man, even if he is a Russian soldier!”

            I wanted to jump on him but Ödön stood between us and calmed me down.  My wound was bleeding heavily.  Somebody gave me a handkerchief to hold on it until we reached Corvin, where I went directly to the first-aid station.  Chubby wanted to hold the wound together with metal clamps but I objected.  However, he would take no objections.  Jokingly and skillfully, he held the wound together with four metal clips and put a band aid over it.


(In the afternoon of October 31, the revolutionaries brought a first-lieutenant of the AVH into Corvin and, just as they did with every AVH man, they brought him into the office.  He had to wait in the corridor until I had looked at his papers.  When he came in and sat down, I recognized him as my attacker with the knuckle band.  This was the only man I hit during the Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight, not because he was an AVH man but because I needed to repay him for what he had done to me.  I slapped his face so hard that he fell off his chair.)


As I came out of the first-aid station, I saw how happy my friends were to see me again.  They knew what had happened to me the previous evening at the hairdresser’s shop and they told me how the battle had ended.  Three AVH men and three Russian soldiers were in the shop.  We were eight altogether outside.  Two AVH men and a Russian soldier died.  The other AVH man and the two Russian soldiers were injured, one of the Russians seriously.  Our losses were unfortunately greater – four dead, three seriously injured and one slightly injured.  The noise of the battle caught everyone’s attention at Corvin but, by the time they arrived on the scene, it was all over.  The injured AVH man was shouting, “Don’t shoot!” for they would surrender.  The ambulances were called and all the injured were taken to the hospital.  The blond boy, who had entered the store first, was dead.


That morning, it was scarcely dawn when there was an attack.  Only two tanks came and both were destroyed.  It was said that, from Boráros Park, three more tanks started out to attack but one of them, luckily for its occupants, fell down into the entrance of the underground public toilets and was unable to come out from there.  After that, there was silence.  It was then about ten o’clock.  At about 10:30 a.m.,  we received another attack, but the three tanks sped away in front of us and there was just shooting.  A serious battle did not take place, although we were ready for a tough battle like that of the previous day.


Picture 9. (p.83)

Luckily for its occupants, the tank fell into the entrance to the underground public toilets at Boráros Park.


            As I was watching the first captured Russian tank with two people on top, directing the tank’s driver where to park it, the boys told me about Peg-leg Jancsi’s adventures in tank-hunting.  They were Corvinists and that explained everything.


During the street fighting in Budapest, the Russians risked their lives as much as we, the Pest Youths, did.  Neither side had a chance to take prisoners.  That morning, however, during a lull between fights, a few of the boys went tank-hunting.  There were about fifteen in the group, the commander of which was Peg-leg Jancsi.  They did not have to ask permission of anybody because, up to that point, we were all revolutionaries.  We should not understand “commander” in the military sense because everyone with a weapon in his hand was a commander.  Peg-leg Jancsi was only commander of that group because he asked the people around him, “Who wants to come tank-hunting with me?”  So he was the initiator and that is why those who went with him regarded him as their leader.


            Sometimes, after I was elected to the position of Commander-in-Chief, when I gave a command to someone, he answered me roughly.  I can’t tell you where he sent me.  “Go and do it yourself!  Don’t order me!”  but a half-hour later, if I asked for a volunteer for the same task, the one who answered me roughly earlier, usually volunteered.  Nothing can be accomplished by commands but there were certain things I could not ask nicely because the boys simply would not do them.  In most cases, they risked their lives.


The group which had gone hunting tanks slowly returned, one by one, most of them bringing a Russian tank, complete with Russian personnel who, upon arrival at Corvin, climbed out of their tanks with their arms above their heads.  The tanks were closely lined up side by side next to the cinema.  The prisoners were taken to a classroom in the Práter Street School.  By the evening, there were ten tanks at Corvin and the prisoners numbered sixty to seventy.  Among them were about a dozen officers, the highest rank among them being a major.


Picture 10 (p.85)

József Varga painting the Kossuth emblem onto the captured cannons and tanks.


I called a few of my commanders together for a short meeting.  Peg-leg Jancsi was among them.  I told them the same thing my father told me as a child:


“Boys!  In World War I., the officers did not have their side-weapons confiscated.  True, they had swords at that time.  Now, however, the officers’ side-weapons are pistols.  We are not going anywhere with those few pistols, so I suggest that we give them back to the officers, naturally without ammunition.  If we do this, they too can keep their pride.  We, moreover, can show them who we are.  Is anybody against this?”  Nobody was.


The pistols were returned to all the officers and I asked the cook to feed them because they were surely hungry.  In giving back the pistols to the officers, I also felt better and I was really proud of my comrades who had agreed to that small but humane decision.


It must have been about noon, when Jutka came to tell me that, among the revolutionaries, there was a seventeen year-old boy who was a hemophiliac.  Jutka also explained that hemophilia is a condition in which the blood will not clot.  So if that boy were injured, even the slightest scratch could cause him to bleed to death and, under those circumstances, he could not be saved.  Jutka asked me to speak to him because he would not listen to her.  He wanted to fight.  He said that everyone had to die sometime.  Now he could die for a cause.


We knew that we could not order him to go home because he simply would not go.  I thought about the necessity of having a commander to guard the Russian prisoners and I talked to Jutka about this.  We should entrust him with this assignment.  Jutka reminded me that if the boy learned that we were doing this to take him out of the fighting, he would not do it.  She asked me to be diplomatic.


“What does this boy look like?”  I asked.

            “Blond, very light complexion, has a machine-gun and wears a raincoat.  At present, he is in the cinema.”


I went into the cinema  and, when I saw our blond boy, I asked everyone to come closer.  I stood up on a chair and I told them that there was a group of Russian prisoners at the Práter Street School and I needed a volunteer to accept the duty of guarding them as a commander.  More than half of them raised their hands.  I asked three of them to come with me.  We went across to the school and, on the way, I asked them a number of questions so that I could see which of the three would be most suited to this job.  The blond boy became the commander, the other two, his deputies.


Ervin Hollos writes the following about the commander of the Corvin prison: “The commander of the Corvin Prison was four times convicted as a hooligan.” (17)


This untruth is characteristic of the credibility of the Socialist historians.


I went down to the kitchen because I was hungry.  The cook told me that lunch would be ready in half an hour but there was no bread.  A little farther up on Kör Boulevard was a bakery.  He asked me to try to get bread from there.


I took a few comrades with me and we went to the bakery.  A long line of people was standing on the street, men, women, young and old, all waiting for bread.  We went in and we told the baker that we were from Corvin and that we needed bread.  The answer was that five-hundred kilo of bread was presently in the oven but if he gave only half a kilo to everyone in the line, it would still not be enough for everyone.  I should talk to the people in the line and, if they would leave, all the bread would be ours.  He could not send the people home in order to give the bread to the Corvinists.  If they were to go away voluntarily, he would give us the bread free.


We went out onto the street and I asked everyone to come closer.  There were still so many when the line gathered around me, that I had to shout if I wanted everybody to hear what I wanted to say.  I asked  those who had at home potatoes, flour, dried pasta or any other food, not to take bread at this time because we had to feed the fighters at Corvin and we were in need of bread.  Otherwise, if they took the bread, the fighters who were hungry would go home to eat and that would be the end of the Revolution.  I asked that sacrifice of them, that half of the bread that was presently in the oven be given to the fighters at Corvin.  Those who had no food at home, would still get bread and we could continue to fight for them and for the independence of the whole nation.


The crowd began to disperse and I shouted after the people that they need not all go away because we could share the bread.  There would be some for them and some for the Corvinists. One said that there was still some flour at home and now the fighters were most important.  Another one said that the Corvinists would have to eat again tomorrow. A third one said that they too could sacrifice that much for the Revolution.  Many came to us just to shake our hands or to embrace us.  They congratulated us and urged us to keep up the good work.


Everyone went away except an old lady, who came up to me and said, “Son, I would just like to have a little piece of bread because I have had nothing to eat for two days.  I am dizzy from hunger.”


I told one of my comrades to go back to Corvin to find the driver of the truck and to come back for the bread.  I asked the old lady to stay with me.  It seemed to me that the baker, in these few moments, was the happiest man in Budapest.  When I thanked him for the bread, he said:

            “Unbelievable!  I have never seen anything like this!  They support you so much.  Come back tomorrow too, because I will put aside two to three hundred kilos for the Corvinists.” (Picture 11)

            I took the old lady down to the school kitchen and I asked the cook to give her plenty of food.  I asked somebody there to help her to take home the food she was given.  Thanks to God and the Hungarian people, we had enough to give her.

            It was now getting dark and we were called to the workers’ hostel because two high-ranking officers had arrived from the Government to negotiate with the Commander.  This was the first occasion that anyone from the Government had sat down with us to negotiate.  The workers’ hostel was not a suitable place for that, so we looked for another place where we would be undisturbed and where we would not disturb anyone.  The janitor offered us the apartment of Doctor Kramolin on the second floor.  The two windows of the apartment looked out onto the cinema.  We would disturb nobody there, because Doctor Kramolin, the department head at the hospital, was not home at that time.  He was at the hospital and it was not probable that he would come home because he must have a lot of work.

            This apartment became the Commander’s office and we never even saw the owner of the apartment.  I an taking this opportunity to thank Doctor Kramolin for the use of his apartment, which became an historic place. 

            We took the two brigadiers-general up to the apartment.  One of them was called Gyula Váradi, the Commander of the Armored Division.  I don’t remember the name of the other one.  We sat down at the large dining table, about six commanders and the two envoys.  Váradi must have been the leader of the delegation because he started the conversation, the essence of which was to decide under what conditions we would be willing to lay down our arms.

            Cannonball Gyurka answered that, while the Russians occupied Hungarian territory, there were no circumstances under which we would be willing to lay down our arms, so there was no use in talking about it.  Our first and most important demand was that the Russians leave our country immediately.

            “Other than the evacuation of the Soviet troops, what other demands do you have?” asked Váradi.

            “We don’t want to see Imre Nagy at the head of the government because it was he who established Martial Law.”

            “It was not Imre Nagy who established Martial Law, but Ernő Gerő, who with this act intended to ruin the image of Imre Nagy, by establishing Martial Law in his name.  In any case, until noon today, Imre Nagy was a prisoner of the AVH.  He was able to make only those decisions that the AVH permitted him to make. We came to negotiate with you, also at the request of Imre Nagy because he, by all means, wants to stop the bloodshed,” said Váradi.

            A long discussion ensued around the issue of Imre Nagy because we did not want to believe what the envoys told us.  We gave them the rest of our demands also: Disband the AVH.  Make them responsible and punish those who have blood on their hands.  Acknowledge the legality of the Revolution.  Acknowledge as national heroes our comrades who fell during the Revolution.  Institute free elections and a multi-party system, where the Communist Party would be just one party among the others and would not have the sole rule over the nation.  Free all political prisoners who had been imprisoned under false pretenses.  Rehabilitate and recompense them.  Establish a new base for economic and commercial connections with the Russians and with the western nations, taking the Hungarian interest into account.  Even after these conditions had been met, we would not lay down our arms but would hand them over to the Hungarian Army or to the new armed force which would be established to keep peace and order.

            The envoys argued over some of the points but the discussion was not tense.  They tried to defend the regime and they kept bringing up the argument that we saw only the bad mistakes and not the good results.

            During the discussion, a revolutionary came and called me out.  In the corridor, several people were standing around a seventeen year-old boy.  They told me briefly what had happened: “He has just been released from the Party Headquarters where he was taken on the afternoon of the 24th, because he was carrying a carbine gun on his shoulder.  They questioned him under terrible torture.  There was blood running under all his nails.  But look at his tongue, Mustache.  They sliced it with razor blades.”

            When the boy opened his mouth and I saw his tongue, I shuddered.  There were cuts a half-centimeter deep in ten or twelve places.  As still happens to me from time to time, my anger erupted and I grabbed the boy’s hand and pulled him into the dining-room so that I could show the envoys the work of the AVH.  There were tears in my eyes and, in my anger, I shouted, “What do you call this?  A big mistake or a successful result?  Comrade Brigadier-General, after this are you still asking us to lay down our arms?  Should we allow sadistic animals to continue to torture the Hungarian nation?  What kind of punishment does the person who did this deserve?”

            Váradi protested: “I did not know that they used such methods.  It is unimaginable.  A normal man does not do such things.  I had nothing to do with this and I do not wish to be identified with those who did this.”

            The negotiations came to an end.  As we accompanied the two brigadiers-general to the door, Váradi walked beside me, his arm in mine.  In the corridor, where only two could walk side by side, he drew close to me and whispered in my ear:

            “Mustache, hold on for another twenty-four hours and you will win.  But don’t tell anyone that I told you that!”

            We were in front of the cinema when they noticed the tanks.  We showed the results of the tank-hunt to the man who was the Commander of the Armored Division of the Hungarian People’s Army.  He expressed his amazement and his acknowledgment in such a loud voice that people standing around could hear.  Perhaps I could say that he praised those  who captured the tanks.  Peg-leg Jancsi told him that, when they saw a tank approaching, they hid in a doorway and waited until the tank was really close to them.  Then one or two fighters jumped on top of the tank and they showed a hand-grenade to the driver of the tank through the lookout hole.  “Stoj!”  When the trapdoor opened and the officer put his head out, one of the fighters who spoke Russian told him to drive the tank in the direction he was told.  He was told that, if he did not obey, they would throw the hand grenade into the tank.  All obeyed and they never had to use the hand-grenades.

            Váradi asked about the fate of the Russian soldiers who were in the tanks.  I told him that they were in a classroom at the school, that the officers were allowed to keep their pistols and that they had eaten well.  Later on, we would send them back to their division.  Váradi just shook his head and repeated that it was unbelievable, unimaginable.

            The government envoys left.  We commanders had already decided to free the Russian prisoners.  I went down to the kitchen and I asked the cook to set enough places for our prisoners.  He should give every prisoner a glass of wine, a loaf of bread and a packet of cigarettes beside his supper.  When all this was ready, he should send somebody up to the new office for me.  He should send a comrade to the prisoners to tell the guard commander to bring the Russians down for supper.  I went up to the office and called the office of the Russian City Commander.  I asked for a Hungarian-speaking Russian officer to come to the telephone, whom I told that I was phoning from Corvin Circle and that we intended to hand over the Russian prisoners to the Russian Commander.  That night, at 9 p.m., a Russian officer should wait for us at Boráros Park at the foot of the bridge on the Pest side, to receive them.

            I looked for two interpreters.  One of them was a university student, who spoke very good Russian and the other was a professor of the Russian language, who had spent a couple of years in a Russian prison, where he had learned Russian.  When the news came from the cook that the prisoners were in the dining-room, we went down.

            The cook had set a place for me at the head of the table, beside the two interpreters, and beside them sat the officers and then the soldiers.  During supper, with the help of the interpreter who was sitting between us, I talked to the major.  He was definitely a likable man.  We traded pistols.  I gave him my 7.62 pistol and he gave me his 9 millimeter service pistol which appeared to me like a “hand cannon”.  There was plenty of ammunition for it because we had taken all the ammunition from the Russian officers.

            After supper, I stood up and had my interpreter translate to the Russians:

            “You can see that you are not facing fascists or a mob.  We are Hungarian patriots who want nothing more than to live freely in our own country.  It is our homeland and it is the duty of each one of us to protect it.  Our nation has lived under oppression for centuries, from the Turks, the Austrians or the Germans and now, you are the oppressors, who regard our homeland as a colony.  We want to put an end, finally, to that colonial status.

            “You could have seen during the fights that we were never attacking.  You were the attackers.  You want to crush in blood the idea of freedom which put weapons into our hands.  Now you, the soldiers of the Russian Army, again want to crush the ambitions of freedom, just like the Turks, the Austrians and the Germans did for centuries.  Now you are the occupiers and the oppressors.

            “Yet  we commanders have decided that we shall set you free.  You may go back to your units and you can tell your comrades what you have seen and heard here.  Tell them they are not fighting against fascists but against Hungarian patriots, whose only goal is to obtain the freedom of their nation.  Furthermore, you can tell your comrades that, as long as you attack, we shall defend.  The blood which is dear to you and to us will continue to flow.

            “We have a goal which is more important than our lives.  In defense of our homeland, for the freedom of our nation, we are willing to die without hesitation.  But why are you dying?  Is it worth sacrificing your lives to keep in continuous slavery a nation which desires its freedom?  Go home to your country and live as you please but let the Hungarian people live in their land as they please.  In freedom!

            “Go back to your comrades and give them a slice of bread.  We know that you have no supplies and there are some of you who have not eaten for two or three days.”

            We lined up our prisoners in front of the cinema and armed guards accompanied them to the foot of the bridge in Boráros Park.  Before we set out, a comrade of mine came to me and said that a Russian soldier was sitting on the steps of the cinema, asking us to shoot him.  He would rather die than go back to his unit.  My comrade asked what they should do with him.

            “Leave him.  Let him stay here.  Take him to the kitchen and ask the cook if he can help with the dishes and the cleaning up.”

            That Russian soldier was Viktor, who told us that several of his comrades were shot to death by Russian political officers because they did not want to shoot the Hungarians.  Twenty year-old Viktor sacrificed his life for the Hungarian freedom in Rákoczi Square.  He became one of our heroic dead.

            At Boráros Park, a major was waiting for our group and we handed over our prisoners to him.  I left both majors with a handshake.

            When we returned to Corvin, we saw Attila and White Hat, the two university students who, as envoys of Corvin Circle, had brought a letter from the Russian Headquarters.  The letter was addressed to the Budapest headquarters of the Resistance movement.  The letter was signed by Colonel Kuzmenov, Commander of the Soviet Armed Forces in Hungary.  The following information about  this letter was broadcast by the Kossuth radio station at 6 a.m. on the morning of October 28:

            “The Army Commander informs us that, during the night, Budapest was quiet.  There was no exchange of fire.  At the request of the revolutionaries, negotiations began between the armed revolutionaries and representatives of the Army.” (18)

            Besides the letter from Kuzmenov, the envoys brought an authorization, the text of which follows:

Hungarian Army Command in Budapest


            I authorize the two envoys to return to the Corvin Cinema to the Commander of the Revolutionaries in order to begin negotiations for an armistice.

BUDAPEST,             October 28, 1956, 15:30

This authorization is good until 18:00.

                                                                                    Lieutenant Colonel, János Solymosi

                                                                                    Budapest  VIII. Commander

Copy of Document (p.94)

            In his letter, Kuzmenov promised a full amnesty and free passage and assured us that the Revolution had accomplished its goal because Imre Nagy had become Prime Minister and he would fulfill our demands.  He asked that we acknowledge that there was no further reason for bloodshed and that we lay down our arms.  However, if we had any demands, by all means we should come forward with them.  The Soviet Army Leadership would do everything in its power to end the bloodshed.  The tone of the letter was not threatening but rather seemed to be more like a request, written in a very persuasive tone.  From this, we concluded that the Russians in Hungary were in more trouble than we were.  Moreover, we had already guessed that from what we had heard from the officers of the Russian prisoners when we conversed with them.  Apart from that, there was what Viktor had told us and the envoys of the Hungarian Government who, only a few hours earlier, had left Corvin.  Therefore, we knew that we were close to victory and we weighed our answer to the letter which the Russians had sent.  We knew how important it was.

            We called the commanders together.  We were about ten in the office to discuss the contents of the letter and what could be behind it.  We asked each other’s advice on the answer which Attila and White Hat needed in a hurry.  We advised the commanders that our success or failure depended on the answer to this letter.  Therefore, we had to think out carefully every word of the letter.  We wanted to put an end to the bloodshed but not at the expense of betraying our fallen comrades.  We would give our weapons to the Hungarian Army but only if our demands were met.  We did not believe in promises which were never kept.  Our answer, therefore, had to be one which would ensure the success of our fight, whether the Russians accepted it or not.  Even if the battles continued, all the signs indicated that the Russians would soon be forced to give up the fight.  Therefore, I advised that we stick to our demands.  We should not compromise when we were so close to victory.

            Cannonball Gyurka made a suggestion.  That afternoon, about two o’clock, the tall colonel (Maléter) had hung out a white flag from a window in the Kilián Barracks.  He had sent a message with a medical sergeant that, if we did not shoot, they would not either.  In other words, he was asking for an armistice.  Since then, we really had not received one shot from Kilián. (19)

            He suggested that someone go across and ask Colonel Maléter his opinion about what we should answer to the letter because he was a military expert, who knew better than we did in a case like this.  Perhaps he could give us some advice.  At first, I was against the idea but I permitted my comrades to do this because we really had nothing to lose.  I also wondered what the white flag really meant.  Was the Colonel coming to our side or did he fear for his own skin?  We might be able to find this out from his advice.  If he were on our side and really felt he was with us, perhaps he would come across to Corvin, because he would see what was at stake.  I did not believe it, but it was possible that he regretted his sins.  It was important that a man talk to him whom we all completely trusted and whom I knew to be the most trustworthy.  I suggested that my brother Ödön be entrusted with this task.  Ödön, therefore, went over to the Kilián Barracks with Kuzmenov’s letter, returning a good hour later, very agitated, to tell us what had happened.

            “When they let me through the gate, two soldiers pointed machine-guns at me and I told them that I wanted to talk to the Colonel and asked them to lead me to him.  We walked through the courtyard, where a truck was standing and the soldiers made me put my machine-gun on the back of the truck.  They led me farther on, still pointing their machine-guns at me.  When we reached one of the basement doors, they stopped and one soldier left.   He came back about a half an hour later and he went in through the basement door outside which we were waiting.  He soon came back out, asked me if I had any other weapon with me, and ordered me to be searched.  After that, they took me through this door, to a room in which the tall colonel was lying on an iron bed.  He didn’t even look at me but, still lying there, asked, ‘What do you want?’

            ‘Colonel, sir, this le . . .’, I began but, with a rough shout, he interrupted, ‘I am Comrade!’  I started again:  ‘Colonel, comrade-in-arms . . .’ but again, he shouted:

            ‘I told you, Communist Comrade!’

            ‘I did not come here to argue about the proper way to address you.  I came because this letter has arrived from Colonel Kuzmenov, the Commander of the Russian Armed Forces in Hungary.  I came over, at the request of the Corvin Circle commanders, to ask you, as a military expert, what we should answer.  Here is the letter.’

            “At that, the Colonel sat up on the bed, took the letter, read it and answered, ‘What do you want? You are fighting with little guns and carbines against tanks.  Be pleased that you are getting an amnesty.  Go home and sleep. . .’ and he threw down the letter. (20)

            “I picked up the letter from the floor, put it into my pocket and answered, ‘Thank you for your advice.  When I came in here, I thought I was knocking at the wrong door.  Now we know for sure that, from now on, we will continue to get from you what you have given us so far.  We will write our answer to Colonel Kuzmenov and your advice will be recorded in history.’

            “Escorted by the two soldiers who were still pointing their guns at me, I looked for my machine-gun at the back of the truck but I did not find it.  I started to shout, at which a captain wearing glasses came out. (He was Lajos Csiba, Commander of the barracks)  He ordered the soldiers to give me my machine-gun.  Our Colonel, however, remained the ‘faithful comrade’ that he had always been.”

*                                  *                                  *

            With the help of the janitor, Károly Falus, we borrowed a typewriter from one of the tenants.  We came together again to formulate the answer to Colonel Kuzmenov, which Ödön typed.  A copy of this letter is still in my possession.

            After he had finished typing, Ödön said that somebody had to sign it because that was the only way it could become an official document.  He signed it first, then I did, and after us, four others.  That was the first occasion that our names appeared officially in the interest of the Revolution.

*                                  *                                  *

            It was already getting light when Attila and White Hat took the letter to the Russian Headquarters.  Attila asked for Kuzmenov’s letter too, so that he could be sure to pass the Russian guards if they challenged him in the early morning hours.  Ödön did not want to give it to him and it resulted in a big dispute.  Unfortunately, I supported Attila and, because of this, that important historical document has been lost forever.  Even now, my brother Ödön holds this against me.

            Attila and White Hat took our answer to Colonel Kuzmenov.  Because Kuzmenov’s letter was addressed to the Hungarian Resistance Movement’s headquarters, we answered him using that title.  However, we knew that our letter represented all the Hungarian Revolutionaries and we tried to formulate the letter so that the demands of the whole nation would be included.

            This second historic document of the Hungarian Revolution was formulated by the commanders of Corvin Circle.  We were good Freedom Fighters but there was not a trace of diplomacy or political refinement among us, and we wrote our answer honestly.  The text reflected this, especially the last point which showed our political ignorance.  Unfortunately, there was nobody among us who could give us advice on such an important matter.  There were no political officers in Corvin Circle.  In regard to the differences between Maléter and us, János Molnár writes the following:

            “The revolutionaries, especially those in Corvin Circle, partly on tactical grounds, partly on actual grounds, did not trust Maléter.  That was characteristically a political distrust, formulated by the reactionary political leaders among them.” (21)

            In this quotation, Molnár is not talking about Maléter but about the “reactionary political leaders among them”.  However much the agents of János Kádár tried to lead the world to believe that the Hungarian Revolution was organized, was prepared, and had “reactionary political leaders”, the answer which we sent to Kuzmenov proves the opposite.  Moreover, it also proves that it was not Party ideals or political world views which inspired the Freedom Fighters but pure patriotism and the longing for freedom.  We had neither political nor military instruction and it actually was not necessary because patriotism and the desire for freedom were more than sufficient.  In this matter, we could not accept a compromise; we could not bargain and, in this spirit, we formulated our demands.

            On Kuzmenov’s letter, there was a huge Russian seal and under the signature was this title: “The Commander of the Soviet troops stationed in Hungary, the Hero of the Soviet Union”.  This is the way we addressed him in our answer:

            “To the Headquarters of the Army of the Soviet Union.

              To Colonel Kuzmenov, the Hero of the Soviet Union.


            “At today’s meeting of the Supreme Command of the Hungarian Resistance Movement, the rights, demands and wishes of the Hungarian people were summarized as follows:

            “Behind us stand countless people and we know too that, if the Hungarian Army is armed and used against us, they will join us.  They can hardly wait for that moment.

            “Only one part of the AVH is fighting against us, together with the Soviet forces stationed in Hungary.  We condemn those government members who ask for your armed aid in order to protect their positions.  Those members of the AVH, who provoked the armed rebellion and senseless bloodshed, we regard as committing fratricide.  But we cannot understand you either because we are not outside enemies, just an oppressed people, demanding their rights.  On this base, the Warsaw pact does not apply.  Why are you fighting against us?  Why is Russian blood shed for our internal problems?  You have no right to intervene.  Let us continue our fight and we will protect with honor our rights which are due to every man.

1.       We demand that the Soviet Army drop its attitude of hostility, move back to its station and leave Hungary by December 31 of this year.

2.      Disarm the AVH.

3.      The Hungarian Army is to take over the duties of the Special Police.

4.      A provisional government should be formed.

5.      By December 31 of this year, free elections should be held, with a multi-party system.

6.      We demand from the provisional government that our rightful demands be read on the radio.

7.      Full amnesty to every hero who took part in defending himself and protecting his rights.

8.      Make economical and political connections with the Soviet Union and other countries, based on equality of rights.

9.      Make responsible all those who, for their self-interest sacrificed the lives of thousands.

10.  We do not recognize the present provisional government and we demand that Péter Veres be entrusted with forming the new provisional government.

            “If you do not accept our demands, and we do not expect that you will, we want to call your attention to the fact that our fight cannot be lost because the fight for the freedom of a suffering nation and its rights will continue to the final victory.

Long live independent, free Hungary!”

Budapest, October 28, 1956

                                                                        Supreme Command of the

                                                                        Hungarian Resistance Movement

                                                                                    at Budapest

                                    Copy of letter in Hungarian, p. 99






            After Attila and White Hat had left with our answer to Kuzmenov, we thought that the Russians would not accept our demands and, with all the power at their disposal, they would destroy the Corvin group.  We also knew that, with the destruction of Corvin Circle, they would reach their goal, so we had to prepare to repel the kind of attack that would occur in the most severe battle.  Our information indicated that this would be the last attack of the Russians.  If we could hold them back, then the Revolution would have succeeded and the blood of our comrades would not have flowed in vain.

            I walked around with a few commanders to check the guards and to tell everybody about the situation.  We prepared them to repel a Russian attack which would perhaps be more intense than that of the 26th.  Their morale was so high that I could not have asked for more.

            Shortly after 4 o’clock in the morning, we went back to Corvin.  Zsúzsa said that my mother had already called twice and asked that I call her immediately because she had to talk to me about a very urgent matter.  It was just two minutes ago that she had called for the second time.

            We lived in Soroksár and our street was parallel to the Main Street.  Between our house and the house behind us, the entrance to which was on Main Street, was a wooden fence, from which my young sister, Marika, had taken the lower nails of two boards.  When she pulled the two boards aside, Marika could climb through the hole.

            I called my mother and she said that she had just been awakened by a loud noise coming from Main Street.  She sent Marika over there to see what was happening.  If she saw tanks, she was to count them and watch in which direction they went.  Marika came back a couple of seconds later and said she saw two tanks and about thirty trucks, full of Russian soldiers.  They were going toward Budapest.

            “I just wanted to talk to you, my son, and tell you this because those Russians are going to attack you.  Get ready for them, so that you are not surprised.  I thought it better that you know it in time.”

            I thanked my mother for her watchfulness and told her that she didn’t know how important was the news she had given us.  Ödön had to convince Marika to stay at home, for at least she could take care of our mother while we were away.  It so happened that the information obtained by my twelve year-old sister let to the victory of one of the battles of the Revolution.

            I called together a few of the commanders and I told them the important news from our telephone conversation.  I suggested that it would be good to give the Russians a satisfactory reception and I thought that the terminal of the electric railway at Közvágó Bridge would be the best place for it.  The highway passed under two railway bridges about three hundred meters apart and there were empty buildings on both sides of the road.  On one side was the railway terminal and on the other side and apiary and the city waterworks.  A truck full of revolutionaries, with sufficient weapons, would be enough for this reception.  There would be two machine-guns on each bridge, a submachine-gun on each boy in the buildings, enough ammunition to fill the magazines three or four times, and at least a half dozen hand-grenades per person.  They should let the Russians get between the two bridges and all at once open fire on them.

            My comrades accepted the plan but I had to remain behind because of Kuzmenov’s letter.  Our envoys were expected back at any moment.  We decided that the commander of one of the largest groups would lead this action, an assignment which he accepted with pleasure.  They were ready within minutes and the truck left, avoiding the main roads.

            They came back after 6 o’clock in the morning and the commander of the group related what had happened.  The four machine-guns faced each other on the two bridges.  The boys were stationed in the buildings and were told that the first shot was their signal to fire.  The were not even to talk to each other.  When they heard the first shot, they were to open fire on the Russians.

            First came the two tanks, followed by the trucks, about a kilometer behind them. They let the tanks pass.  When the trucks came between the two bridges, they opened fire.  The battle lasted only ten minutes.  The road was full of Russian corpses and burning trucks.  We had one injured man, who was taken to the hospital with a wound in his stomach.  The Russians lost a whole unit of infantry.  When the two tanks turned around and came back, our men were already on their way back to Corvin.

            It was just past 6 a.m. when we received news that the Infantry of the Hungarian Army was getting ready to attack Corvin Circle.  We were ready for the Russians to launch their last attack to destroy Corvin.  We knew when we sent our answer to Kuzmenov’s letter that we should be ready for the last and maybe the strongest Russian attack.  But that the Hungarian soldiers would be used against us was far from our thoughts.  When we received that news, we really got scared.  We were ready for anything except a fratricidal war.  The AVH was different.  They had done so much harm to the Hungarian people that everyone looked upon them as an enemy.  But now, according to the latest news, Hungarian peasants and young workers would be fighting against us and they were our brothers.  Those who could, would rather have fought along with us because this fight was not just ours but that of the whole nation, theirs too.  There were already many soldiers at Corvin, who had left their units to join us.  Many of them had to be persuaded to take off their uniform because, if they were caught in uniform, they would be killed immediately, without a trial.  They were ready to die and they argued that there was no difference whether they died in uniform or in civilian clothes.  They would not be captured alive, anyway.  There were many people at the Kilián Barracks, who had been sentenced to forced labor, who came over to our side.  In the first few days, they received a coat or a sweater from the people who lived around there and, when the news got around that we needed civilian clothes, we received plenty.  The Army, during the Revolution, had done nothing!  By doing nothing, they had actually helped the revolutionaries.  If those Army units, which had been sent to Budapest to keep order during the Revolution, had used their weapons against us, there would have been no Revolution, or it would have lasted only a few days.  However, we knew that those soldiers who did not leave the army to join us, still sympathized with us.  And now, those “Stalinists” who knew that we would not put down our weapons, wanted to send those soldiers to fight against us.  Did they want to secure their positions with the blood of Hungarian peasants and workers?

            We were helpless and bitter because, by all means, we wanted to avoid shedding the blood of our brothers.  Leather-coat, one of the commanders, again suggested that Colonel Maléter might be able to help us.  We were all against the idea but Leather-coat insisted that this was a different case because it was a question of Hungarian blood, to avoid a fratricidal war.  Because Maléter, too, was a Hungarian, he too had a Hungarian mother, he too must be affected by the thought of the possible loss of young Hungarian lives in the cause of the nation’s freedom.  In this matter, he would surely help because, as Commander of the Forced Labor Units, he had connections with the Ministry of Defense and probably, with one telephone call, he could prevent a fratricidal war.  We had nothing to lose by trying.  Perhaps, since yesterday evening, his opinion of the Revolution had changed.  A phone call to the Ministry of Defense could save hundreds, maybe thousands of Hungarian lives.  If a drop of Hungarian blood remained in him, then he would surely do it.

            Leather-coat was almost begging, which affected all of us.  His argument was logical so I asked him to go with me.  We went across to Kilián.  At the gate, our weapons were taken from us and two soldiers with machine-guns escorted us to Colonel Maléter.  I explained why we had come and I asked Maléter if he would call the Ministry of Defense on the telephone and, through his connections, prevent a fratricidal war.  I told him convincingly that he could save many lives with one telephone call.

            Maléter hardly allowed me to finish what I was saying.  He interrupted nervously:

            “I will not telephone anybody.  If you want to end the fratricide, lay down your arms and go home.  If you don’t lay down your arms, then more Hungarian blood will be shed.  From now on, you will have to face not only the Soviet Army but the Hungarian Army also and, after this, you cannot even hope for amnesty.  You can see it is the end for you.” (22)

            “It is not the end yet, Colonel, Sir,” I answered, emphasizing the “Sir” because I intended to offend him.  “The freedom and independence of the Hungarian people are holier than anything to us and we are ready to die for it, no matter who is against us.  We shall return the fire of our attackers, even if our mothers and brothers are among them.  We will not lay down our arms and we will not give up Corvin Circle!   However, I hope that we may talk again about this question under different circumstances.  Thank you for your advice.  We now know what we have to do.”

            The propagandists of János Kádár have written about this question in the following manner:

            “ . . . at six o’clock in the morning, the Hungarian Army and the Soviet Units were to launch a joint attack to destroy Corvin Circle.  Half an hour before the attack was to begin, Imre Nagy called the Ministry of Defense and informed them: ‘I am opposed to the bloodshed.  If you attack Corvin, then I resign!’

            “Imre Nagy did not oppose the killing of the Communists at Köztársaság Square but opposed the bloodshed when it was a question of destroying the Corvinists.   The Corvin group was saved by the intervention of Imre Nagy.” (23)

            We returned to Corvin Circle, crying with anger.  It was terrible to know that we could not avoid the fratricide but it was easier now to decide upon it.  We knew that the success of the Revolution depended upon Corvin Circle.  If we gave up Corvin, the Russians would destroy the other points of resistance within a few hours.  Until now, they had concentrated on us and they suffered their greatest losses from us.  Therefore, it made no difference who attacked us, we would not give up Corvin.

            Again I wanted to call the commanders together to tell them the essence of our conversation with Maléter but I was not able to do so.  One of our commanders brought a colonel to me, who was looking for the Commander of Corvin.  The revolutionaries were waiting for me to come back from Kilián Barracks.  The colonel saluted and reported:

            “Today, at dawn, on the telephone, I received an order from the Minister of Defense, Károly Janza, to launch an infantry attack on Corvin with the four hundred officers under my command.”

            “Did you come here to tell us this?  I asked.

            “No!  I answered that the order is against the people and I refused to obey.  I came here to ask what you need.  Weapons, ammunition, clothes, food, everything is at your disposal.  The four hundred officers will gladly join the Revolution.  They are asking for their assignments.”

            This announcement came to us like sunshine after a storm.  I suddenly realized that I had forgotten to pray that morning but it looked as if the prayers of the other revolutionaries had been heard.  The Lord God probably took pity on us and sent us that colonel in our bitter and hopeless situation.  Or was he sent by the Russians to gain our trust and find out our situation?  That too was possible. In any case, I was cautious with my answer.

            “We have plenty of weapons, ammunition and men, as you can see, Comrade Colonel.  However, if there were more, it would not hurt.  In what quantity could you provide us with arms, ammunition, clothes and food?”

            “How many trucks do you have?”  asked the colonel.

            “Unfortunately, only one.”

            “We have some too.  Send the one truck to the barracks and I will take care of the rest.”

            This colonel was András Márton, Commander of the Miklós Zrinyi General Staff Academy.

            The Hungarian infantry attack, we later found out, was suspended on the intervention of Imre Nagy.  We knew then that God had sent the colonel to us.  Our morale was so high that all of the Russians could have attacked us and we could have repelled them.

            Six trucks arrived, packed with weapons, ammunition, parkas and brand new officer’s boots.  We took these supplied to the Práter Street School, where all the commanders helped to unload them.  This meant, unofficially, victory for us.

            We had not even finished unloading, when our comrades came with the news that the Russians had not accepted our demands.  Attila spoke on the radio and asked us to lay down our arms.  Our comrades could not understand why Attila had to tell us this on the radio, why he had not come back and why the message was directed to the Kilián Barracks and the area surrounding Corvin.  Attila knew full-well that the people at the Kilián Barracks were shooting at us during the fighting and yet the message was addressed to Kilián and to us.  Attila appeared to be pleading:

            “Attention!  We are interrupting our program.  After a short pause, we will bring you an important message. (Intermission signal)

            “Attention!  Attention!  A message to the George Kilián Barracks and to the revolutionaries occupying the district called Corvin!

            “This message comes from the two envoys who, an hour ago, were among you.  We gave your answer to the commanders of the Soviet and Hungarian troops.  They find your demands unacceptable.  In our opinion, the new Hungarian Government, whose members are named in the “Szabad Nép”, which we left with you, expresses the interests of the whole Hungarian nation and will fulfill the most important demands contained in the sixteen points.  This is also our conviction.

            “Dear friends, you know us.  One of us was your doctor and, with the same good intentions, we have always shown to you, we ask that you believe and accept our words without any misunderstanding and with the same good intentions.

            “We personally asked the commanders of the Armed Forces to allow us to speak to you one more time.  Together with your leaders, whose signatures appear under the proposals, you will all receive a full amnesty if you lay down your arms and you will be able to return home freely.  The fact that the Armed Forces, at our request, allowed us to read this announcement on the radio, clearly proves that they will stand by their decision.

            “Friends!  We strongly urge you to consider our request seriously.  Think of our families, the residents of the area you occupy, and listen to reason!

            “The deadline for the surrender will be announced later by loudspeaker on a car.  We ask that you sit down together again and reconsider our request, which comes with the warmest feelings of friendship.

            “The two medical student envoys.” (24)


            We learned later that Attila was given a written text which he was forced to read on the radio.  (Attila Lehoczky later changed his name to Lehotay.)  That was the first time that the Kilián Barracks was mentioned as revolutionary and, from that time on, the Kilián Barracks and its commander were attributed a role in the forefront of the Revolution.  It was a well thought out plan and, as we shall see, clever and successful.  To secure Kilián’s reported role in the Revolution, the two envoys from Corvin were used to mislead the nation.  Later radio broadcasts did not mention Corvin or simply erased the name Corvin from their tapes.  In later radio broadcasts, the successes of the Corvinists were attributed to Kilián or particularly to Maléter, and it was expected that the newspapers would support this.  One can imagine, after this, how the Corvinists felt when they knew how they had been treated by the commander of Kilián during the Revolution.  Not only the killing of the two Corvinists by Maléter and the expulsion of twenty-eight unarmed revolutionaries from Kilián in the midst of crossfire, resulting in seven deaths on October 26, but also the advice which he gave to my brother Ödön, on the evening of October 27,  and his threats to me on the morning of October 28, clearly prove Colonel Maléter’s political leanings.  However I will come back to that later.


Copy in Hungarian of written announcement. (p. 108)



“I, the undersigned, Attila Lehotay, at one time envoy of Corvin Circle, state that, at 11 a.m. on October 28, 1956, the announcement broadcast on Kossuth Radio was given to me in written form and, at gunpoint, I was forced to read it, word for word.  I never had any connection with the soldiers of the Kilián Barracks up to October 31.

                                                                                    Attila Lehotay

                                                                                    Buffalo, August 2, 1982”


In the early hours of the afternoon, two envoys from the Government arrived, looking for the commander.  The boys told me to go to the workers’ hostel, where I found that already about eight commanders were gathered talking to the two envoys.  One of the envoys wore a long leather coat and he was introduced to me as Comrade Virág.  He came with the message that the commanders of the revolutionaries were invited to the Party Headquarters at 11 Academy Street.  The subject of the discussion with the Government representatives would be the surrender and the re-establishment of order.


Naturally we were suspicious.  We were afraid that they were going to trap the commanders of Corvin.  At that time, there was no battle going on.  Imre Nagy had announced the cease-fire and the numbers of Corvinists, just as the numbers of the other revolutionary groups, were growing from hour to hour.  People were coming to join us who, during the fights, were hiding in their basements and were reviling and slandering us.  One of them wanted me to affirm that he was also a “freedom-fighter”.  Another one volunteered to go and negotiate with the Government.  He stated that he was the most appropriate person to do that because he could prove that he was a direct descendant of Lajos Kossuth![26]


One of the group commanders, a sixteen year-old revolutionary, spoke up.  He said that, whoever goes to the negotiations has to know what he is talking about, and only those who fought would know.  He said that we also had to consider that those who go there may not come back.


The boy was right.  We commanders moved to a private room in order to discuss the matter.  We decided that “Comrade Virág” should stay here as a hostage and the representatives could go only if Virág could guarantee their safe return with his life.


We chose my brother Ödön and, after a little persuasion, Doc too.  Everybody trusted them and knew that they would not compromise on our fundamental demands.  We also knew that those two would not be forced into a corner or intimidated.  Therefore, they were appointed by the commanders of Corvin to be their representatives in those negotiations and they later told us what happened there.


The truck which had brought “Comrade Virág” and the other “comrade” was waiting on Kör Avenue to take the representatives from Corvin to the Party Headquarters on Academy Street.  When Ödön and Doc climbed into the truck, two other people, who had sometimes appeared during the fighting, joined them.  One of them was Iván-Kovács, who said he was a group commander and wanted to know what would be the subject of these negotiations.  He said that he had the right to go there too.


They did not argue but decided that Ödön would be the spokesman of this delegation.  He would answer their questions in such a way that he would avoid the possibility of their finding out the numbers at Corvin and the strengths and weaknesses of the fighters.


When they arrived in front of the Party Headquarters, a small crowd surrounded the truck, the majority of them speaking Russian but all in civilian clothes.  The driver of the truck had to shout at them not to hurt the four men because they had come to negotiate with the representatives of the Government and the Party.  Between threats and curses, they pushed them to the gate of the Party Headquarters, where a police-captain stopped the little group.  He, too,  shouted curses at the revolutionaries.  Because of the shouting, a brigadier-general appeared and told the captain to let them in.


They went up to a large room in the building and there, around a huge table, they seated them in every fourth chair.  The brigadier-general continued the shouting:


“You are the Freedom Fighters?  You are fighting for freedom?  You dare to say that you are taking up arms in the interest of the Hungarian people?  You are anarchists!  Imperialist agents!  Fascists!  Reactionary mobs!”


Ödön interrupted and shouted back:  “We did not come here for you to tell us what we are.  I think we know very well who we are and why we took up arms!  We came here because we were invited to negotiate! If this is your way to negotiate then I believe we can go back to our comrades where there is still a lot to be done!”


Doc, who was sitting on the other side of the table, noticed that Imre Nagy’s son-in-law, Dr. Jánosi, had entered.  He stood up and, disregarding the brigadier-general, he went over to Jánosi and introduced himself as Doctor Sándor Antaloczi from Corvin Circle.  He introduced the others, one by one.  Doc asked Dr. Jánosi if it would be possible to sit down to negotiate with intelligent men because he had had enough of insults.


“On the third floor, there is a group representing the Government.  The Party is represented by Ernő Molnár.  Let us go up because the negotiators are waiting for you,” said Dr. Jánosi. 


 In a large room, six generals were already seated around the table.  Dr. Jánosi and Ernő Molnár sat at the head of the table.  The Corvinists sat down opposite the generals and a shower of questions began.


“Where are the commanders?  Who are the military experts?  Why did they not come for such important negotiations?”

            “Some of the commanders are here.  The majority of them could not come because they are assigning duties to the continually arriving revolutionaries and distributing arms to them,” answered Ödön.

“Are you commanders?  You are not professional soldiers!  Who are the experts?  Tell us how many you are and how you destroyed the armored tanks.  What kind of cannons do you use? Where did you get the weapons?”  The questions were showered at our commanders.

“We are not many, approximately fifteen thousand armed revolutionaries, supported by about a hundred thousand civilians who are helping us.  We have 76 millimeter and 122 millimeter cannons, with as much ammunition as we need.  If we have to move, we have tanks in which we place soldiers who were serving in the Armored Division.  We have as much gasoline and as many bottles as we need.  Against a small tank, we use three bottles; against a large one, we use six.  No matter how many tanks the Russians have, we have enough gasoline for them all.”

            “Where did you get all these weapons from?” asked one of the generals, who had been silent until then.

            “The Russians brought them!”

            “How can the civilians help you?” continued the general.

            “They help a lot!  A great deal!” said Ödön.  “When we knock on the door of an apartment to ask if we may use a part of it, they merely ask that we leave our guns in the hall.  When we are ready to leave the house, the housewife asks us to sit down and eat a little warm food because ‘who knows when you last had warm food in your stomach.’  When we leave, she puts larded bread and apples into our pockets.  There are grandmothers who come with laundry baskets full of food to give to the revolutionaries.  They say, ‘Children we are praying for you!’”

            An older colonel spoke from the end of the table.  “I know well what it means if the populace is in sympathy with the fighters.  I was a partisan in the Second World War and the civilians helped us too. This is why we were successful.”

            “Under what conditions are you willing to lay down your arms?” asked Dr. Jánosi.

“First of all, a successful revolution does not recognize a surrender.  Therefore all we can negotiate is to give over our arms to the Hungarian Army or to the new armed force which will be formed to keep peace and order.  The first and most important condition is that the Russians withdraw from Hungary by December 31 of this year,” answered Doc.

            “To my knowledge, there are already such negotiations under way between the Government and the highest Soviet Army leadership..”

            “Right now, the Party and the Government are holding discussions with the Soviet Army Leadership.  This is one of the points on the agenda.,” intervened Molnár.

            “Disarm the AVH and dissolve it!” said Ödön.

            “That’s impossible,” shouted one of the brigadiers-general.  “Then the hangings and lynchings would begin and the lives and safety of innocent people would be in danger.”

            “There has to be some kind of police force to keep peace and order,” said Dr. Jánosi.

            “A new armed force has to be established, whose members would be the most worthy people from among the Revolutionaries, the Police and the Army,” answered Doc.

            Jánosi looked at Molnár, shrugged his shoulders and accepted this suggestion.

            “Establish a new government which would be temporary and remain until a multi-party system is established and free elections can take place,” continued Doc.

            “I have information that the Government is already proceeding in that direction,” said Jánosi.

            “We demand that all those people who sacrificed thousands of lives in their own interests and those who have the blood of innocent people on their hands be brought to justice,”  said Ödön.

            “That would be impossible until the establishment of the new government and until the administrators of this new government are ready to deal with this.”

            “But what would happen to them if they dissolved the AVH?” asked the first brigadier-general.

            “The Hungarian Army would keep them under tight security in one of the army barracks designed for that purpose.  The sooner the arrests take place, the surer we can be, that what the Comrade Brigadier-General fears will not take place,” answered Ödön.

            (Somebody entered the room at this point and called one of the brigadiers-general out to the phone.)

            He continued, “I propose especially that we prepare a report of these important negotiations, which we will all sign and a copy of which we will take back to our comrades so that they can see what we have agreed upon.”

            “Neither the Party nor the Government has given us the authority to sign any kind of paper.  Therefore, we shall personally take these proposals, of which I have prepared a report, to the Central Leadership of the Party and to the Government and they will officially notify the revolutionaries of their decision,” answered Molnár.


The brigadier-general returned from the telephone and informed us that he had just spoken to the Army Chief-of-Staff, who gave the order that the whole negotiating group should go to the Ministry of Defense at such and such a place, where the personal representatives of Károly Janza, the Minister of Defense and of himself, would negotiate with them.


They were led across to the Ministry of Defense, which was close to the Party Headquarters.  On the way, Ödön told a revolutionary, who had just joined them on the street, to go back to Corvin and tell the commanders that they were really negotiating.  He should tell them what had happened up till then and also that they were going to the Ministry of Defense to continue the negotiations.  Ödön asked him to tell me that everything was going well and that I should not worry.


Ödön and Doc agreed that they would not give in on any of the ten points, except that they would accept the temporary Government of Imre Nagy until free elections could take place.  Doc mentioned that the third point should be changed.  The armed force should not be taken over by the Army but a newly-established armed force should consist of representatives of the Army, the Police and the Revolutionaries.


            At the Ministry of Defense, they were again taken into a large conference-room, with armed guards standing at the doors.  The colonel, who had been a “partisan”, entered the room without knocking and led the group.  At the conference-table, Brigadier-General Gyula Váradi was sitting in the company of more civilians and high-ranking officers.  The generals and Dr. Jánosi were looking for Károly Janza, who was not present.  When they found out where he could be found, Dr. Jánosi, Molnár and the two generals left.  Brigadier-General Váradi seated the group at the large table, where there was plenty of room for all of them.  Doc immediately informed those present of the negotiations which had taken place at the Party Headquarters, and the faces of the revolutionaries in civilian clothes, who represented the different groups of revolutionaries, reflected their agreement with our demands.


            Soon another revolutionary group of three members arrived and they were shown into the room by a colonel.  Váradi had them sit down and he informed the group of the negotiations which had taken place at the Ministry of Defense during the night, very similar to our demands.  The question of justice for the criminals was deferred until order could be established.


Váradi pointed out that all of these proposals were more or less identical with the program of the present Government and so, “I think that we too should prepare an announcement of surrender.”


            “No, Comrade Brigadier-General!” said Ödön, jumping up.  “Surrender is out of the question.  Our Revolution has won and I repeat what I said at the Party Headquarters, that a victorious revolution cannot consider a surrender and does not lay down arms.  The only possibility is that we hand over our weapons to a body which we consider worthy.  We would be assured by this body that order would be re-established and that the demands of the revolutionaries would be fulfilled.  That is why we suggested at the Party Headquarters, that a new armed force be established, in which the revolutionary groups would be represented in adequate numbers.”

            “I intended that, too!” interrupted Váradi.  “It is true that the Revolution has been successful and we cannot talk of surrender but rather of handing over the weapons.”


            Váradi sent for a typewriter and began to type, while the revolutionaries present in the room discussed how one of the brigadiers-general of the Ministry of Defense had mentioned that “the Revolution has been successful”, which gave official acknowledgment to our victory.  During that time, Váradi finished typing the following text:




            “The revolutionaries of the eighth and ninth districts of Budapest see their demands fulfilled in this Government Announcement.  On the basis of this, they agreed with representatives of our Army to take part in the establishment of an armed force, to hand over their arms and to start working together to restore order.


            “They call upon all those young people who are still armed to follow their example and support the re-establishment of law and order.”



Picture of Document (p. 116)


            He wanted to add something more to this announcement, when the door opened and another revolutionary came in alone.  When he noticed the generals in the room, he went over to Váradi, who was sitting at the head of the table and, gesticulating wildly, he said, “What are you taking so long about?  Join with us and we will guarantee you that, in twenty-four hours, we can beat the Russians out of the territory of Hungary.” (25)


That young man was István Angyal, of Jewish descent, one of the commanders of the Corvinists from Tűzoltó Street, who was executed in 1957.


Váradi looked at the other generals and answered that the Army chiefs-of-staff had no authorization from the Minister of Defense to do that but he promised that he would mention this proposal to Károly Janza, the Minister of Defense, in the early morning hours when he had to give a report of the negotiations which had taken place during the night.


            He took the paper out of the typewriter, put it in front of us, so that the representatives of the revolutionary groups of the eighth and ninth districts could sign it.  Ödön answered in a manner which he had learned at the Party Headquarters.


            “The fighters and leaders of our groups did not give us the authority to sign any papers in their name, without their agreement.  However, I request a copy of this agreement so that I can take it back to the commanders of the fighters at Corvin Circle for their approval.”


            Váradi handed him a copy without any hesitation.

            During the discussion, daylight had dawned.  They argued about what percentage of soldiers, police and revolutionaries should be represented in the new armed force.  The discussion ended with the arrival of an envoy, so they postponed the final decision.  The envoy reported that Prime Minister Imre Nagy and Defense Minister Károly Janza would receive the representatives of the revolutionary groups in the early morning hours in the Parliament.


            What followed, Ödön remembers in the following way:


            “There was a little time to clean ourselves up.  We did not want to go into the Parliament, before the Prime Minister, dirty and unshaven.  In the corridor, an officer showed us to the bathroom and indicated that we would find everything necessary to shave and clean up.

            “In the corridor, refreshed, we discussed what we would say to Imre Nagy.  We agreed that we should stick to the sixteen points of the university students, and that we would not give in on the demand that the Russians leave Hungarian territory immediately.

            “Károly Janza came in with the two generals who were with him at the Party Headquarters and he said that they had just telephoned from the Parliament that Imre Nagy was waiting for the representatives.

            “We walked across to the Parliament and, as we reached the stairs, three or four revolutionaries joined us.  Nobody asked them which group they represented or where they had fought during the last few days.

            “As we stepped through the door of the Parliament, we saw a long, wide staircase in front of us, covered with red carpet.  Károly Janza went ahead of us, up the staircase, followed by about ten of us revolutionaries.  Imre Nagy was waiting for us at the door of a conference-room and he greeted us with a handshake.  When my turn came, I introduced myself and said that I was the brother of the university student who, on the evening of the 23rd., had asked him and the other ministers not to allow László Piros, the Minister of the Interior, to shoot into the crowd at the radio-station because that would bring bloodshed here in Hungary, the like of which the world had never seen before.

            “Yes, yes, the boy with the small mustache, in a raincoat,” he nodded.

            “That was my younger brother, Ernő, I said.

            “When everyone had sat down around the big table, the two generals left and Károly Janza started the conversation:

            ‘During the night, successful negotiations took place between representatives of the revolutionaries and representatives of the Army Chiefs-of-Staff.  The revolutionaries see their demands fulfilled in the official announcement of the Government.  They agreed upon the establishment of a new armed force in which they will take an active part, and they agreed to hand over their arms to this newly-formed armed force.’

            “At the end of his speech, he mentioned that we should retain the accomplishments of the Revolution.  He called the fallen revolutionaries “heroes” and he asked us to work with all our might for the creation of an independent, democratic and socialist Hungary.

            “The next speaker was a young man, who announced that the Hungarian Writers’ Association completely endorsed the Revolution of the Hungarian youth and that they would support it with all their power.  He asked Prime Minister Imre Nagy to take the pure spirit of the Revolution, make it his own, and to form the new government in this spirit.

            “Doc was the following speaker and he said that we had to continue the negotiations which were started at the Party Headquarters and the Ministry of Defense.  We could not agree upon what percentage of the Army, the Police and the Revolutionaries should take part in the newly-forming armed force.  We had to decide upon this and establish it as soon as possible in the interest of law and order.  Everyone agreed with him.

            “There were a few more people who spoke but they did not deal with anything of major importance.  The audience ended.”

            Meanwhile, at Corvin Circle, a short while after the representatives went to the Party Headquarters for the negotiations, Major Pál Berkovics came out from Kilián.  (He now lives in Canada.)  He informed us that Colonel Maléter had asked that I go over for a discussion.  I answered that I would not go because I had nothing to discuss with him.  The major seemed to be expecting this answer because he continued that, in that case, Maléter would come over for a few minutes because he would like to greet the heroic defenders of Corvin Circle.

            This invitation of Maléter’s was like a slap in the face, after all he had done and after all he had said to Ödön and to me.  Now that the Revolution was victorious, he wanted to meet the heroes and talk to them?  I answered the major very angrily:

            “This morning or last night would have been the time for a conversation with the colonel, when we went to him for advice in our desperate situation.  And what heroes does he want to meet?  Those whom he shot or those he threw out onto Üllö Avenue in the midst of the fighting and who died there?  Doesn’t he fear that someone might put a bullet into him?  He may come, as far as I’m concerned but I think he’ll regret it.”

            “Well, I guess that’s what it’s all about.  The Colonel asks that you send a few armed men to ensure his safety.  He was pushed into the background during the reign of terror of Rákosi and Gerő.  He should have become a brigadier-general long ago but the Stalinists penalized him because he did not agree with their terrorism.”

            “Why did you come to me?” I asked the major.

            “Colonel Maléter told me to look for Mustache and tell only him the purpose of my mission.”

            During the entire Revolution, Maléter had treated us as enemies.  Although he did not shoot us or order us to be shot, the advice he gave to Ödön and to me proved that he was on the side of the Russians!  He did not regard the Revolution as anything other than a revolt of the mobs and the restoration of Fascism.  I thought that, if nothing else, we could let him see the joy of victory on the faces of the revolutionaries; let him see those whom he called mobs and Fascists, and let him see who fought for the freedom of the nation.  I accepted his request to come over.  Now we had nothing to fear from him.

            I told Szabó, the commander of the guards, to take three men with machine-guns and go across to Kilián and escort Maléter to the workers’ hostel.  They should take good care that nobody hurt him.

            About fifty people followed the group which went to protect Maléter and I heard some things which cannot be repeated.  Szabó said that, on the corner of Kisfaludy Street, machine-guns should be ready to fire because there were some revolutionaries who wanted to attack Maléter.

            There were about ten of us at the workers’ hostel and we closed the doors, trying to quiet down the group which was cursing Maléter.  Jutka and Chubby, the doctors, Blue Cap, Peg-leg Jancsi, Curly, Bearded Gyurka from the Práter Street School and a few others remained in the room.  I invited Maléter to sit down and I asked him what he wanted.  He sat down and said that he had come to offer his services.  He was still of the opinion that the Soviet troops could not be defeated by armed force and, in the present circumstances, he thought that we could use the advice of a trained army officer.

            I asked him why, only now, he came to offer his services.  Why, only now, he wanted to offer us “the advice of a trained army officer”, when the Revolution was already successful.  Why did he not give us the advice when we asked for it, and why did he tell us, at that time, to lay down our arms and go home and sleep?  Why did he say that we should acknowledge that it was the end for us?  Why did he shoot at us and, for three days,  order that we be shot at?  Why did he kill two of our comrades in the Kilián Barracks?  Why did he throw out twenty-eight unarmed men onto Üllö Avenue in the middle of the heaviest crossfire?

            Maléter answered that he was a soldier and he was following orders.  However, when he realized that he was facing Hungarian youths and workers, he stopped the shooting.  Already, yesterday, he hung out the white flag and, since then, nobody from Kilián had shot at us.  Regarding the advice of last night and this morning, he repeated it.  We would have to fight a powerful, superior force which could destroy us within hours.  Therefore, he still advised us to lay down our arms because the Government would, by all means, fulfill all our demands.  Further resistance was suicide and we would be responsible for the continued shedding of Hungarian blood.  Furthermore, he had seen arms in the hands of children, who had no military training and this could be dangerous because they could shoot each other.

            Jutka interrupted very angrily: “Comrade Colonel, do not worry about these children because, even without military training, they have shown us what they can do.  Neither they, nor we, who are no longer children, gave a thought to the superior force which faced us.  For us, foremost in our minds, when we took up arms, was the freedom of the Hungarian nation and the shaking off of the chains of slavery.  And now, since the Revolution has been successful, after so much bloodshed, and the victory is recognized by the government itself, you still advise us to lay down our arms!”

            “Mustache!”  Jutka turned toward me, red in the face.  “I don’t see any use in continuing this conversation.  We all have something more important to do.  Let’s end it!”

            I told Maléter that, however much we needed advice in the future, we would ask it of a man who had not killed any of us, who had not shot at us during the battle.  It was sure that we would find someone.  In regard to responsibility, he would have much to explain to an independent jury.  We could be sure that we would find him there.  After that, I asked Szabó to escort Maléter out and make sure that no harm came to him.

            His visit lasted about fifteen minutes.  We had nothing to discuss with him. (26)





            Yesterday, in the Party Headquarters and the Ministry of Defense, the establishment of a new armed force was agreed upon by our envoys together with representatives of the Government and Army Chiefs-of-Staff.  The only point which was still a question of discussion, in the establishment of this armed force and its leadership, was the question of the percentage of those of whom it was comprised.  Our envoys insisted that the new “National Guard” should comprise of fifty percent Revolutionaries, the other fifty percent to be shared between the Police and the Army, whose members should be worthy of this duty.

            During the morning, Brigadier-General Gyula Váradi called from the Ministry of Defense and informed us that, at 2 p.m., negotiations would take place at Corvin Circle, between representatives of the Army and the Police. (27)  Váradi also said that Imre Nagy was anxious for the establishment of the National Guard, so that law and order could be re-established as soon as possible.  The aim of these negotiations should be to overcome any and all obstacles which stood in the way of the formation of the National Guard.

            I called the commanders together and sent a message to Szabó, the commander of the guards, that Brigadier-General Váradi and his guard should be allowed to enter.  We brought up chairs from the workers’ hostel to the dining-room of the Kramolin apartment, which served as our headquarters and we brought in another table as well, so that we could seat all the negotiators.

            At about two o’clock, the envoys arrived.  To my greatest surprise, Maléter was among them.  Szabó led them to the Kramolin apartment and I asked him to remain with us.  Ervin Hollos recorded the following about that meeting:

            “The Prime-Minister sent two high-ranking officers to the Kilián Barracks to look for Pál Maléter.  Gábor Magos accompanied them.  He knew where to find Maléter.  Their conversations took place in Maléter’s room, during which revolutionaries entered, announced something and left.  Later they went over to the Corvinists and, together with several leaders of the Corvinists, they continued the negotiations.” (28)

            Gosztonyi also writes of this event, but doesn’t write the truth either:

            “Monday, October 29.  At dawn, the Commander of Corvin Circle, Gergely Pongrátz, came over to us with a few revolutionaries.  They wished to speak to Maléter.  They showed him a young revolutionary, whose tongue had been cut in many places by the AVH.  They talked about other things too.  As a result of the cease-fire, the number of Corvinists had increased significantly, disagreements had arisen among them and chaos had broken out among them.  Pongrátz asked advice and help from Maléter who, accompanied by Captain Csiba, went across to the revolutionaries, where he found representatives of Janza, the Minister of Defense and Brigadier-General Váradi.  Váradi was also negotiating with Pongrátz’ men.” (29)

            The members of the delegation were: Brigadier-General Gyula Váradi, the Commander of the Armored Division; Colonel Pál Maléter, Commander of the Forced Labor Division; Brigadier-General István Kovács; Colonel Tóth; a police-colonel whose name I don’t remember (it might have been Kopácsi); Brigadier-General Úszta; Colonel András Márton, the Commander of the Miklós Zrinyi Military Academy and Gábor Magos, Director of the Soroksár State Model Farm.

            We also introduced ourselves:  Ödön Pongrátz, Ernő Pongrátz, Doctor Sándor Antaloczi, István Erdős, László Szabó, Doctor Judith Lehoczky, György Szakállas, Kristof Pongrátz, Gergely Pongrátz and András Pongrátz.

            Colonel Márton, who was at the end of the line, asked if there were any more Pongrátz.  Ödön answered, “There is another one, but he went home to see if our mother and younger sister are all right.”

            Gábor Magos gestured to Ödön to go out.  They knew each other well because Ödön and Bandi (Kristof) were also truckers for the Model Farm.  Ödön told Bandi, in Rumanian, that he should go out and ask him what he wanted.  I also went out because I was standing close to the door and Gábor Magos asked with surprise, “You are the commanders?  I just wanted to say, don’t give in to them at all.  They are so scared that they are about to mess their pants.  Imre Nagy is pressing for an agreement so that the document can be signed and the National Guard can be established.  The cards are in your hands.  You can play them any way you want.  I thought it would be good to know this before you start the negotiations.”

            We knew what we wanted because we had discussed everything before the arrival of the delegation.  Gábor Magos’ encouragement was like a guarantee that we could accomplish what we wanted.

            Maléter began the discussion:

            “Comrades!  The Revolution is victorious.  The Soviet troops have begun to withdraw from Budapest;  therefore, without further wrangling, lay down your arms.  The Army will take care of the restoration of law and order and the Hungarian Army will take the place of the withdrawing Soviet troops. . .”  He would have continued but I interrupted angrily:

            “If I am not mistaken, we already discussed this yesterday evening, and we have no need of your advice.  I am really amazed, after what happened yesterday evening, that you still dare to come here.  For that, you really need courage.  In any case, it is not possible to talk of laying down arms, exactly because the Revolution was victorious.  In this question, we insist that you honor the decision which was made at the Ministry of Defense!  During the negotiations, led by Brigadier-General Váradi, we agreed that a new armed force would be established as the National Guard.  Fifty percent of this group would be Revolutionaries and the other fifty percent would be divided between the Army and the Police.  If the Government does not accept this, then we have no more to negotiate.”

            Maléter was nervous.  He wanted to speak again but Váradi silenced him and answered:

            “Theoretically, an agreement was reached at the Ministry of Defense but the actual percentages in the National Guard were not agreed upon.  I think that the Revolutionaries, the Police and the Army should all have an equal part in the National Guard.  I feel it to be of major importance that we set a lower age limit of twenty years of age.  Those who are under twenty should be disarmed and, in their place, we should put four-hundred officers from the Zrinyi Academy who, as trusted soldiers, should take over the commanding positions.  They would organize the revolutionary groups into army regiments and they would start their army training immediately.”

            I interrupted with irritation:

            “Comrade Brigadier-General, are you joking?  You can’t mean that!  More than eighty percent of the Corvinists are younger than twenty.  We can thank these youngsters that the Russians are moving out from Budapest, and that the Revolution has been acknowledged as victorious.  We can thank these youngsters and not the different divisions of the Army or their officers for the results that we have achieved up to now.  These youngsters under twenty did not take into account the superior power of the Russians because they valued their freedom more than their own lives.  Almost half of these boys and girls have become national heroes.  The other half, who still hold their weapons in their hands, must be assured that their comrades did not die in vain.”

            This question caused a lively discussion and everyone spoke for and against the proposal.  After more than a half-hour of argument, we agreed upon the following:

            We would disarm the youngsters under eighteen, but only after the last Russian soldier had left Hungary.  Until then, everybody would keep the position which he had held during the fighting.  The Army officers would be assigned posts beside the commanders of the revolutionaries, to act only as advisors, not as commanders.  Beside the fourteen to fifteen year-old patrol leaders, a lieutenant or a captain would be the Army advisor.  Within the National Guard, we would establish the Corvin National Guard Unit and the commander of this regiment would be elected by the fighters of Corvin and would take up a post directly below the Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard.

            Brigadier-General Kovács said that Imre Nagy wanted to name, to the position of Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard, a person who was a professional soldier, who had suffered through the prisons of Rákosi and who would be accepted by the Revolutionary groups.  Imre Nagy chose Brigadier-General Béla Király, who had been released from prison two weeks before and who had been in the hospital until the preceding day.

            We discussed Béla Király’s character for a short time and, from what we heard, we decided to accept him, if the rest of the revolutionary groups had no objection.  Colonel Márton remarked that, if the Corvinists accepted Béla Király, nobody else would object.

            My brother Ernő brought up the question of which ministry would be in charge of the National Guard.  Should the Ministry of Interior or the Ministry of Defense, which were both still Communist, be in charge of an armed force which had taken up arms against the existing Communist regime?

            Brigadier-General István Kovács reassured us that Imre Nagy would shortly form a new government, whose members would be people against whom we would have no objection.  (Unfortunately, this never took place.)

            After this, the percentage of those taking part in the National Guard came up again and it brought on the hottest discussion.  After almost a whole hour of argument, the delegation gave in and accepted that fifty percent of the members would be from the revolutionary groups.

            We also agreed that the highest agency of the National Guard should be the Committee of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, consisting of six members, one from the Police, two from the Army and three from the Revolutionaries.  The National Guard Operative Committee would be under the Revolutionary Armed Forces Committee and would consist of twenty members, five from the Police, five from the Army and ten from the Revolutionary groups.

            It must have been evening when the negotiations came to an end.  As we escorted the envoys to the door, I asked Brigadier-General Váradi and Colonel Márton not to leave because I wanted to speak to them.

            We went back into the Kramolin apartment, where I asked these two officers, whom I trusted the most, what type of people were these, with whom we were negotiating.  Váradi and Márton, on the evening of the 27th., or on the morning of the 28th., had proved which side they were on.  They told us about each envoy, who he was and what type of person.  Úszta had just come back from Russia but he did not have an important role.  Actually, throughout the whole negotiations, he was silent.  Maléter did not say a word either, after our fight.  They also told us who he was, that they knew of the situation between him and us and that they understood it completely.  When Brigadiers-general Váradi and Kovács received the order from Imre Nagy to come to these negotiations, Zoltán Tildy and Zoltán Vas, who were present at the time, asked them to pick up Maléter on their way and bring him along.  They did not know much about Gábor Magos.  He was with Maléter when they went into the Kilián Barracks.  They knew, however, that he belonged in Imre Nagy’s circle and he was an honest Hungarian. (30)

            Colonel Márton said that it was urgent that the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Corvinists be filled as soon as possible and he asked that, on the following day at 7 a.m., all the important commanders of Corvin Circle be at the Party Building in Rákoczi Square to elect the Commander-in-Chief.  He would be there too and he would help with the establishment and organization of the Corvin regiment of the National Guard.  In addition, during the morning, army officers would arrive, whose duties would have to be assigned.  The advisor of the Commander-in-Chief would be Colonel Ödön Dienes.  Then they left.





            The preparations started early in the morning at Corvin Circle.  We had to send a delegation to the Police Headquarters at Deák Park, where a meeting was called to establish the Revolutionary Armed Forces Committee.  We decided that Ödön and Doc would go to Deák Park and the rest of the commanders would go to the Party Building at Rákoczi Square at 7 a.m., where they would elect the Corvin nominee for Commander-in-Chief.

            About sixty people had gathered at the Police Headquarters, representatives of the different armed forces, from the Army and the Police.  Béla Király was there, too, who we now knew would be the Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard.  They elected members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces Committee and they asked Béla Király to accept the position of Chairman of this Committee.  Ödön, as representative of Corvin, also became a member of this Committee.  Doc did not want to accept any position.



Copy of Order appointing Ödön to the Revolutionary Armed Forces Committee (p. 128)

The Revolutionary Armed Forces Committee

Operations Committee

Budapest V. Engels Square 7, II. em. 234

Written Order

I verify that Ödön Pongrátz is a member of the Operations Committee of the  Armed Forces Committee.

He is free to move around the territory of the capital and may use any kind of vehicle.

The above-mentioned person may become involved in any kind of objective.

Budapest, 1956, November 1.

                                                                        Brigadier-General Béla Király

                                                                        Commander of the Revolutionary

                                                                        Armed Forces Committee

Valid until withdrawal!


            All the commanders of Corvin Circle, who were over twenty years-old, went to the Party Building, which was only a few minutes’ walking distance from Corvin Circle.  When we arrived there, the commander of the guard there told us that yesterday afternoon, Scruffy was guarding the entrance and, from one of the windows, she was killed with one shot.  The bullet went in above her left eye and came out under her right ear.  There was no way they could have saved her.

            Scruffy was a sixteen year-old gypsy girl, who had come to Corvin Circle with her brother, Jewel.  She had a machine-gun on her shoulder and her black, curly hair had not been combed for several days.  That’s why everybody called her Scruffy.  She was one of the best-liked Corvinists because it seemed she was everywhere.  When the Russian attacks came, with her machine-gun, hand-grenades and sometimes Molotov cocktails, she was one of the bravest fighters.  In vain, we told her in the noise of battle to duck down, to protect herself behind the walls; it was obvious, she was not afraid for her own life.  When somebody was injured near her, she quickly threw her machine-gun onto her back and went to pull her comrade out of the line of fire.  Scruffy was always there, where she was needed.  In the intervals between the fighting, when morale was low, Scruffy cheered everybody up.  Sometimes she made a short speech, when somebody lost his confidence and talked about the superior strength of the Russians or mentioned that the Corvinists didn’t have enough help.

            “Aren’t you ashamed to be talking like that?” she would shout.  “You are not men but rabbits!  We have been here already a couple of days and, up to now, we have repelled every attack of the Russians.  Every minute, we are getting closer to the success of the Revolution and now that we are so close to victory, you are dispirited.  It is possible that we shall die in the next attack but it is also possible that it will be the last attack, and from then on our land will be free!”

            There were many slightly injured and the doctors wanted to send them to the hospital because they were so young and, in this way, they could keep them out of the fighting, but they would not go.  Doc, Jutka and Chubby visited these injured and changed their dressings, either in the cinema, in the school room or wherever they were.  One night, Jutka came to me and she said that the morale of the revolutionaries in the cinema was lower than it had ever been.  She asked me to go over and talk to them.  Jutka, Chubby and a few others came with me but, when we went in, we heard Scruffy’s voice.  We stopped in the doorway and listened to what she was saying and the answers which the “scared rabbits” gave.  They didn’t need me.  On the way back, I asked Jutka and the others what I or anybody else could have said, which would have been better than Scruffy’s words.


            With tears in my eyes, I thought of Scruffy, while Colonel Márton escorted me down into the basement, where everyone was sitting around a large table in the conference-room.  We must have been about twenty.  Colonel Márton began to speak but my thoughts were with Scruffy and the “rabbits” who had to pay with their lives so that we could sit here and negotiate as commanders of the victorious Revolution.  I thought about those children whom Scruffy had called “rabbits” who, of their own free will, sacrificed their lives for the freedom of the Hungarian nation.  The picture came to my mind of a thirteen to fourteen year-old boy whom I told to go home because his mother was waiting for him.  The boy pointed his 22 caliber rifle at me and told me that, if I did not shut my mouth, he would kill me.  It was impossible to chase them home yet, around them and beside them, their comrades were dying and injured by the dozen.  One of them asked me if I had read “Strosnoi piros virágokat” (The Red Flowers of Strosno).  If I had, he told me, I would know that it was his duty to protect his country and I had no right to send him away.  Another one said that the AVH could not take away his father and his two brothers now, because they had died at the radio-station and at the Parliament.  “It’s certain that they’ll never take me away because, either we win or I will go to join my father and my two brothers.”  Zsuzsa came into my mind, who on the afternoon of the 25th., came with a machine-gun on her shoulder and, just like Scruffy, she was the other “spirit” of Corvin.  She was one of seven children, the youngest of whom was Jancsi, the only boy in the family and the apple of everybody’s eye.  He died at the radio-station.  He was only fifteen years old.  Zsuzsa was still at Corvin Circle and, now that the fighting was over, she was helping with the organization of a list of names.  She was entrusted with the duty of filling out identification cards for those who would be in the National Guard.  She was always there when something had to be done.  She had just graduated and said that if she did not become one of the heroic dead, she would become a doctor.



            Applause awoke me from my daydreaming and I saw that everyone was looking at me.  I apologized to my friends for letting my mind wander and not being aware of what was being discussed.


            Colonel Márton said that the commanders of Corvin Circle had agreed that I should be the Commander-in-Chief and the applause was for me.


            I thanked my friends for their trust but I said that I could not accept.  With this position came more responsibility than I was prepared to assume.  It involved the lives of hundreds of revolutionaries, for whom I did not want to be responsible because I did not feel strong enough emotionally.  Furthermore, I was not trained militarily or politically for this position and we needed to select somebody to this position who had these three qualities.  To be the Commander-in-Chief of Corvin Circle was not just a title; it carried with it enormous responsibilities.


            Colonel Márton answered my objections.  He pointed out that, not only my popularity but also the negotiations in which I took part had proved that my opinion of myself was wrong.  However, if I really did not want to accept, whom would I propose to be suitable to fulfill these responsible duties?


            Iván-Kovács then said: “If you don’t accept, Mustache, then I will accept it!”

            “No, Laci.  You don’t accept it either.  Instead, let us do what we decided yesterday.  Let us nominate two or three people, go back to Corvin Circle, call together our comrades and let them elect as Commander-in-Chief from the nominees, whomever they find worthy and suitable for this position.  I don’t think that we alone have the right to elect just anybody from among us to be Commander-in-Chief.  I think that, in this question, our comrades have the right to say something.  Therefore, I suggest that we stick to that proposal.”


            Everybody agreed that I was right and Colonel Márton asked again whom I would nominate.  I nominated Erdős, Szabó and Iván-Kovács.  Erdős and Szabó because they were always there, where there was the most action and I knew that the freedom of their country was more important to them than their own lives.  There was no question about their toughness and sincerity.  I nominated Iván-Kovács, in spite of the fact that he was the one that I trusted the least, since he had signed some documents as Commander of Corvin, which did not benefit Corvin or the Revolution. (31)  I did not want to show any personal antagonism toward him since he had nominated himself to the position of Commander-in-Chief, but it came out later anyway.


            Erdős said that he would accept the nomination only if I were among the nominees.  Then the others shouted that, they too, would  accept their nomination only if I were among the nominees.  Colonel Márton agreed with them.  I accepted but honestly hoped that the boys would decide between Erdős and Szabó as their Commander-in-Chief.


            We went back to Corvin and we called together the Corvinists in front of the cinema.  When everyone was there, Colonel Márton opened the windows of the office of the Commander, (the Kramolin apartment) and, in a short speech, he said:


            “The Revolution, in which the Corvinists played an enormous part, is victorious.  The Soviet troops have left Budapest and they will soon be out of the whole country.  Not only the state, but the peoples of the world acknowledge your courageous deeds, because you, the youth of Pest, have made history.  The nation can thank the youths of our country, the Hungarian workers and most of all, you Corvinists, that we are entering a new era in the history of our nation.  When we had need of you, you knew where your places were.  Now our most important responsibility is to protect that which we have won with so much blood.  We have to restore order and your duty, within the National Guard, is to keep order.  Therefore, you need a Commander-in-Chief whom you will elect from four of your comrades who were nominated by the commanders.  The four nominees will now come to the window and the one who receives the most applause will be your Commander-in-Chief.”


            Colonel Márton stepped back from the window and Iván-Kovács was the first to take his place.  There was applause.  Secondly, we pushed Erdős in front of the window, and he received such a huge round of applause that we thought we had our new commander.  Szabó and I argued about who should be third.  He went to the window.  He received about as much applause as Erdős. 


            The shouting which broke out among the Corvinists when I appeared is beyond description.  In chorus, they shouted, “Mustache!  Mustache!  Long live Mustache!”  I went to the window right away but the shouting did not stop for about ten minutes.  I saw that they wanted me to be their Commander-in-Chief and I had no choice but to accept.  The responsibilities which came with this position were so great that I was really afraid to accept it.  However, I was even more afraid that the power which came with this position would fall into the hands of a person who would maybe misuse it or, with a thoughtless act, might harm the Revolution.


            Now that the Revolution was victorious, I knew that there would be revengeful actions against the AVH and it would be very difficult to prevent them.  I was not afraid for the AVH because they would have to answer for their actions anyway but I did not want to see the honor of the revolutionaries stained in this manner.  I already felt the weight of the responsibility and I knew that the Corvinists had to look at it in the same way.  There was enormous work ahead of me and I knew that I would not be able to do it alone.  I asked Erdős and Szabó to be my assistants and they both accepted.


            The officers had arrived much earlier and were waiting to be assigned to their posts.  I asked Szabó to take on this responsibility and to tell the comrades and officers that the commanders were to remain commanders and the officers were to work beside them as advisors.  They should start right away establishing the squads, platoons and companies and should make sure that everyone was issued with the right kind of weapon.  The squad commanders should write up a list of the names of the youths under their command.  The list should include the following information: mother’s name; date and place of birth; number of weapons issued.  All this was important for the issuance of the identification card for the National Guard.  The squad commander should give the list of names to the platoon commander who would bring it and hand it to Zsuzsa.  The company commanders would check the names of the people on their lists and the serial numbers of their weapons.


            Soon Zsuzsa called on the telephone from Köztársaság Square, which I did not know very well.  On the other end of the line, in an excited voice, she said that, again this morning, two revolutionaries had gone into the Party Headquarters and, an hour later they had not come out, so a company of revolutionaries had gone after them from Baross Park.  However, when the company commander and two of his men went in to find out the identification of the Police guard at the gate, hand-grenades were thrown at them from the building and about five AVH machine-guns opened fire.  Luckily, they were able to jump back from the doorway and only one of them caught a bullet in his leg.  The Police guard at the gate came with them and told them that about fifty AVH men and more high-ranking officers were in the Party Building, in addition to the workers in the building.  The AVH men had changed into Police uniforms the previous day. (32)  The revolutionary group from Baross Park had tried to occupy this Party Building but the AVH men were so entrenched that they had repelled every attack up to now.  They would need some help because now the crowd, which had gathered because of the noise, was being fired upon from the Party Building.  There were more than twenty dead and injured already.  They were even shooting at the ambulances which were trying to pick up the injured from the square. 


Picture 12. (p. 135)

 Köztarsaság Square.  Beside our tank an injured ambulance attendant.  The AVH shot everything that moved.


            I interrupted that there could not be AVH men at the Party Building because the Government had already dissolved them yesterday.


            “Well then, who is shooting from the Party Building?  Perhaps the weapons are shooting themselves?” asked the telephone caller excitedly.

            “How many Freedom Fighters are there at the Party Building?”

            “Now we must be about a hundred and fifty because we are getting help from all sides but we are still not enough.”


            I asked Erdős to gather together all the commanders of the Armored Division as quickly as possible and to start out immediately for Köztársaság Square with the entire unit of mobile armored cars.  They should hurry because every minute could mean another life.


            I told Zsuzsa to have them stop the firing and to remain there.  We would be coming with the armored division to restore order at Köztársaság Square.  They should wait for us.


            We were able to get three tanks and manned them with men who had previously served in the Armored Division of the Army.  Their commander was a retired officer of the Armored Division.  Their tanks were painted with the Hungarian Kossuth emblem and the national flag waved from each of them.  I saw Erdős and told him that I would go out with the tanks and he was to remain close to the telephone so that, at any given moment, he could be reached.  I climbed into the tank in which the commander was sitting and we left.


            It must have been about noon, when we arrived at Köztársaság Square, on the side facing the Party Building.  We climbed out of the tanks, together with the boys.  We asked for a report from the revolutionaries standing there.  The dead numbered more than fifty at that time and the AVH did not spare anybody.  Two Red Cross ambulance attendants in white coats also died.  The AVH men had heavy machine-guns, light automatic guns, submachine-guns and hand-grenades and they were well-provided with ammunition, it seemed.  We had plenty of armed men but we could not get near the building because they shot at anything that moved.


            At that time, the fight had slowed down to a point where, from time to time, a shot was heard from each side.  In the windows of the Party Building, we could see moving forms but the distance was too great to be able to determine their clothes.  However, the fight had come to an end. (33)


            The first tank fired five shots from its 76-gun, at which the guns in the Party Building became silent.  From every corner of the square, from every gateway and perhaps from every window, our shots rang out.  I saw a large group going through the gate, followed a few minutes later by another group.  After it appeared that the Party Building had been taken, I ordered the commanders of the tanks to take the three tanks back to Corvin Circle.  I kept a group of about twenty-five revolutionaries there with me.  We  went around the park and approached the Party Building from the side of the cinema.  We arrived there just as the AVH men, wearing Police uniforms, were being brought out and lined up against the wall with their hands above their heads.  Around us the dead were lying everywhere and they were all civilians.  Then we had to force our way through a thick crowd, where many of the people were shouting, “No mercy!”  They wanted to finish off the AVH men right away on the spot.  The anger of the people increased almost to the point of hysteria and we tried in vain to quiet down the crowd.  They just turned their anger on us.  Many of them had lost their fathers, brothers or best friends during the course of the morning, and these people could not be calmed down by soft words.  Casting aside their human qualities, they wanted blood!  In vain, I told the raging crowd that the courts would deal with the AVH; they wanted to push me over to them.  I can thank my Corvinist comrades that I was able to escape, for they encircled me and took me back to Corvin.  Even to them,  I had to explain that I was not defending the AVH but the good name of the Revolution, which we should not soil with executions.  Except for three men, I sent the others back to save whomever they could.  At least they could take the injured to the hospital.


            One of those who stayed with me asked if I would be of the same opinion if one of my own brothers were lying there among the dead.  I could not answer but the question made me think.  The next day, on October 31, we received proof that every one of the AVH got what he deserved.


            Not only in Hungary but also abroad these common killers received good publicity!  Nobody mentioned the things they had done.  Some were silent because they did not know what the AVH had done and others, even if they knew, just kept quiet about the work of these hangmen whom János Kádár called heroes.  I shall come back to that later.


            A truck came to take us back to Corvin, where the organization of the National Guard progressed rapidly.  The identification cards arrived and Zsuzsa was waiting for the lists of names so that she could fill them out.  Szabó and Erdős came into the office and reported in a military manner.  I told them that this was not necessary and I asked them not to call me Commander-in-Chief but to continue calling me “Mustache”.  I told them what had happened at Köztársaság Square, at which Erdős said that the courts would have sentenced them to death anyhow.  Zsuzsa noted that there was a big difference between sentencing the AVH men to death and lynching them but they all agreed that it was not worth my risking my life to protect these killers.


            Accompanied by my two assistants, I went to the Práter Street School where the name lists were in the hands of the company leaders.  I asked them to take them to Zsuzsa who was waiting for them.  One of the company commanders reported that there were about twenty AVH men in one of the classrooms, who had come in to ask for the protection of the Corvinists.  They said that they had never harmed anybody and that they would be able to clear themselves in front of a jury.  Until then, in order to escape the anger of the people, they asked us for protection.


            We looked at the AVH prisoners.  When we stepped into the classroom, the boy with hemophilia, who had continued his duties as commander of the prisoners, reported that everything was all right.  There were two women among the prisoners who were all obviously afraid.  I assured them that if their hands really were clean, they had nothing to worry about.  If there were anything that they had to answer to, they would do it in front of the judge.  Here, they would be protected and nobody would harm them.  I also told them that everyone was responsible for his actions and, if the court were to find them guilty, they would have to pay for their crimes.


Picture 13. (P. 139)


The commander of the Corvin Armored Division, standing on the mud-guard of the armored car.  In the background, my brother, Bandi, with one hand in his pocket.



            As we went out of the room, I motioned the commander to come with us.  I told him that the majority of these people must be innocent or they would not have come to us for protection, so he was to treat them accordingly.  Our comrades told us how he had treated them so far.  They all had to sit on a bench and they were not allowed to speak to each other.  There were cigarettes on a desk and, if anyone wanted to smoke, he asked and received a cigarette.  If one of them wanted to go out, he indicated it and the guard at the door escorted him to the toilet.  Their meals were brought from the kitchen and they ate as well as the revolutionaries.  The commander asked if I had any instructions for him.  I said I had none because what he had done so far was praiseworthy and he should continue his good work.  I knew that the prisoners were in good hands and that we had done the right thing in giving him this position.


            We went to the first aid station, where Jutka and Chubby had established a little hospital of fifteen to twenty beds.  There was somebody in every bed but nobody was seriously injured.  Those with more serious injuries had been sent to the hospital.  In one bed, I saw our envoy Attila, who was Jutka’s husband.  I thought that Attila was just sleeping but Jutka said that he had a bullet in his lung.  He had received it from behind a window on Kör Avenue.  Luckily it was not serious enough to send him to the hospital.  If I promised not to shout, she would let me talk to the injured.  I asked Erdős to see if Zsuzsa needed any help.  Szabó remained with me and we spent a good hour talking to the injured.


            Erdős came back shortly and said that Doc was downstairs in the kitchen.  He was asking for me to go down because he wanted to talk to me.  I had not eaten anything all day and I was hungry, so I gladly went down to the kitchen with Szabó and Jutka.  Doc related what had happened at the Police Headquarters and we filled him in on the day’s events, most of which he already knew.  The cook came into the dining-room and sat down beside us.  He reported that there was so much food that he did not know where to put it.  Carts and trucks continued to come from the country and he was afraid that the food would spoil.  He asked us not to accept any more food for the moment.


            I told him to send the extra food to some of the hospitals because they could surely use it.  This morning, a truck had come, full of all kinds of food, which Ödön, before he left for the Police Headquarters, had redirected to one of the hospitals.  An old peasant man was sent by one of the workers of the village to take four truckloads of food to the revolutionaries on their behalf.  With this, they asked us to hold on and not to give in on our demands.  Yesterday afternoon, another peasant had brought a side of pork to the Corvinists and had said: “Boys, thank you.  This will be my last delivery to the state!.  I give it to you willingly and I even thank you for taking it!”


            When we came back from Köztársaság Square, this old peasant was waiting for us at the office of the Commander.  He reported in a military fashion that he had carried out the order that he had received from Ödön.  He had taken the four trucks to the Women’s Clinic Number 1, where there were many injured Corvinists.  He handed over the receipt.  I embraced the old man and asked him, when he returned home, to thank the workers of the village in our name for their gift.  He was to tell them that the food was important but the knowledge that the Hungarian peasants were behind us was even more important.  Three more truckloads were redirected to Baross Park, so we were able to supply food to the revolutionaries in that district too.  I asked my brother, Bandi, to see to the distribution.


            He often sent a truckload of potatoes or cabbage to the corner of one of the streets to distribute to the populace.  People took off their coats, hats, aprons, in which to carry home the food that the villagers had sent to the revolutionaries.  In this way, the Hungarian peasantry took part in the Revolution and, not only the fighters but also the whole city was thankful for their generous support.  József Bocskay, the commander of the revolutionaries at the Bányász Cinema, took three truckloads of flour to Dudás who distributed it among the residents.


            Ödön kept the receipt from the Women’s Clinic Number 1, which is one of the most treasured of the very few documents that we have from the Revolution. This is what it said:

            “We have received with thanks the food sent from the village of Racalmas, directed to us by the Commander of the revolutionaries. (Four truckloads) Illegible signature”.  István Horváth signed it in the name of the workers from Racalmas.  Dated: October 30, 1956.  


Picture of the document (p. 140)

            During the afternoon, several AVH men were brought in from Köztársaság Square, men whom the Corvinists, sent back by me, had managed to save.  After a hearing, we put them in with the rest of the AVH prisoners.  Later, in the evening hours, when we heard for the first time about the underground prisons, we gathered together several officers and questioned them about the entrance to the underground prisons.  In spite of what has been written by Ervin Hollos, Vera Lajtai, János Molnár or the “White Book” and other writers of the Kádár regime, nobody harmed any of those men!  We strengthened the guard around them so that they were well protected.

            The transparent lies of the agents and propagandists of János Kádár can be seen in the inconsistencies shown in the book Köztársaságtér, 1956, written by the supposed university professor, Ervin Hollos.  On page 128, par. 3:  “The defenders of the Party Building did not panic although they were shooting at them for two hours with tank-cannons.”  On page 138, par. 3: “For a full hour, from one to two o’clock, tanks were shooting at the building.”  On page 139, par. 3: “After the tanks had been shooting at the building for more than half an hour. . .”  Which is the truth? (34)


Picture 14. ( p 143)

The Köztársaság Square Party Building, November 1, 1956


            In these books, there are also certain facts which I do not intend to discuss because they are true!.  The following quotations will prove how important it was for us to take the Party Building and will show that the AVH men and friends of Moscow, who were in that building, were not only the enemies of the revolutionaries but also actively planned to overcome them. 

            “When the so-called Revolutionary Committees were beginning to form and advisory boards were being elected at the factories, the Budapest Party Committee leadership decided it would have to become involved in these new organizations, to try to bring in the influence of the Communists and those who sympathized with them.  The Communists regarded these committees and advisory boards as a battlefield, where they tried to cut off the reactionary influence.  With this in mind, they gave advice to these new organizations and they sent Communist comrades to the district Communist Party committees.” (35)

            In many places, there were members of the Communist Party, who were patriotic Hungarians, who were elected to these committees, and these people were considered “reactionary counter-revolutionaries” by the Communist Party.  Their positions in these committees, which were regarded as battlegrounds, should have been held by Soviet spies, so that from inside they could disorganize and break down these new organizations.

            “Later, at the time of the organization of the National Guard, the Budapest Party Committee also tried to send Party members and workers, loyal to the People’s Republic but they had to realize that that territory was ruled by the counter-revolutionaries.” (36)

            The Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard was Brigadier-General Béla Király, who was appointed by the Communist, Imre Nagy, to be the Budapest Army Commander, and whom we all accepted.  Sándor Kopácsi, at that time, Chief-of-Police, became his assistant.  He was not only a Communist but also a member of the leadership of the Hungarian Communist Party.  Brigadier-General István Kovács, who was also a Communist, became Chief-of-Staff.  We can conclude that Béla Király, Sándor Kopácsi, István Kovács, Imre Nagy and other Communists were “planted” by the Party Committee or, in other words, they were all “counter-revolutionaries”.  I can prove that Maléter was planted among us.  There may be another explanation for the others.  They were primarily Hungarians and secondly Communists.  Is everybody, who puts his Hungarian feelings before his Communist beliefs, a counter-revolutionary, as Ervin Hollos seems to indicate?  It is also obvious that János Kádár was planted into the Government of Imre Nagy as Secretary of State and, along with his Communist comrades, who were also planted in the Government, he betrayed the Hungarian Revolution.  All this took place on the highest level. 

            On October 30, on the news, on the Kossuth Radio, the following announcement was read:

            “The National Guard is in the process of being formed.  It is the duty of the Communists to take part with all their strength to secure peace and defend the power of the workers.  Therefore, all those Communists who are able to bear arms should report immediately to the National Guard organization centers.  This is an announcement from József Köböl, First Secretary of the Party Committee.” (37)

            Therefore, the goal of the Communists, who were in the minority in Hungary, was to become a majority in the National Guard and, in this way, they intended to build the fifth column.  In any case, among the members of the National Guard, there was a fairly large number of Communists, who fought throughout the Revolution alongside the revolutionaries, with the Party book in their pockets.  These men were regarded as counter-revolutionary by those who were preparing the fall of the Revolution.  Just how much they were preparing the downfall of the Revolution is seen in the following quotation:

            “On October 28, Imre Mező, in the name of the Central Leadership, turned to the Army Committee which was a part of the Ministry of Defense, to ask them to send reliable Army officers, who would help to organize the workers’ militia.  These officers arrived, discussed the plan and accepted it.  In the morning, Colonel Lajos Tóth received an order to organize a central cadre and place them at the Party Headquarters in Budapest.  This central group consisted of several sections.  Second-Lieutenant, Jenő Surányi was the leader of the organizing section, his assistants were Second-Lieutenant Lajos Szabó, Major István Orbán and Captain Imre Szmokai, interpreter.  The leader of the Weapons Supplies Section was Colonel József Papp and a young officer was appointed to serve with him.  The leader in charge of food supplies was Major János Vágo, who also received a young officer to help him.  The political assistant for Lajos Tóth was Colonel János Asztalos, whose duty was to do political work among the group, but primarily with those officers who were sent out into the districts.  The group received the responsibility of organizing a unit in each district, arming it and securing the power of the workers, establishing order in the districts, defending and protecting the companies.” (38)

            It is worth mentioning that only Asztalos, Szabó and Papp were mentioned among the victims of the Party Building.

            “The plan, which was formulated in a military fashion, was supported by the Party committees of the districts and of the factories.  Above all, they wanted to see weapons in the hands of reliable workers, Communists and partisans.  By evening, the district Communist secretaries arrived.  Mező strongly supported a workers’ militia which he regarded as extremely important in order to choke out the counter-revolutionaries.  Tóth briefly outlined the facts and the plan of action.  They decided that the lower commanding officers of each district, together with the representatives of the District Party Committees and the Budapest Party Committee, should be brought together in a group on October 29, to be trained to become the leaders of the armed workers.  During the discussion, Imre Mező, speaking of the defense of the Headquarters, said that the Budapest Party Committee could already secure weapons if they had people who could use them.  Somebody asked, ‘To negotiate with or to shoot with?’  Imre Mező answered, ‘If he is strong, then shoot.  This is the Counter-Revolution.’” (39)

            All this took place on October 28, after the announcement of the cease-fire in the Freedom Fight of the Hungarian youth, and the Budapest Party Committee announced: “This is the Counter-Revolution.”  Now it was they, not the Freedom Fighters, who were preparing to attack.  Let us see what happened later.


            “In some districts, groups of one hundred to three hundred people were forming and were already being supplied with weapons.”  This was on October 29, when the political chaos was intensifying. (40)


            Ervin Hollos gives an explanation for this:

            “On the 29th., with the help of the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Defense and the Central Committee, the Budapest Party Committee acquired weapons and it became possible for the Party to arm the workers and loyal Communists.” (41)


            The Revolution was victorious on October 28, when Imre Nagy ordered the cease-fire and the Government announced it on the radio. (42)  If some of the members of the Communist Party did not accept Imre Nagy and his Government announcement, the central leadership of the M.D.P (the Hungarian Workers’ Party) should have given them direction.


            The Central Committee of the M.D.P. had a meeting on the morning of October 28, 1956.  They analyzed the political situation and came out with the following announcement:


“The leadership of the Central Committee agrees with today’s announcement of the Government of the Hungarian People’s Republic.  It calls upon every group and every member of the Party to help achieve the goal of this announcement.” (43)


            After that, the question arose as to who were the “counter-revolutionaries”. The quotations show that what happened on October 30 at Köztársaság Square was none other than the destruction of a true counter-revolutionary rats nest, to which the Central Committee of the Communist Party contributed on the morning of October 28.  Let us look at the following quotation and draw our own conclusions.


            “On October 29, the front line continued to clear.  The food supply to the Party Building was almost gone.  Károly Tompa tried to obtain food from the Commander of the Armed Forces but he received the answer that the situation of the Armed Forces was extremely changeable. ‘They are unable to send supplies because the Armed Forces have been dissolved by law. . .’


            “In that extremely dangerous situation, the AVH guards were supplied with police uniforms on October 30, as Imre Nagy had suggested.  The fact that they received police uniforms and that they would be able to restore order somewhat pacified them.” (44)


            One cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!  Just because the AVH men put on police uniforms, it did not make them police-men.  It was widely known that the Government had officially disbanded them.  At that time, on the morning of October 30, they knew that the revolutionaries from Baross Park would be coming to the Party Building to look for their comrades who had disappeared there a few days earlier, and they also knew that they would find them there.  How well they knew that, can be seen in the words of Ervin Hollos:


            “On the night of October 29, many unidentified telephone calls were made to the Party Headquarters.  They were threatening to attack the following day, and to kill without mercy anyone they found there.  They suggested that anyone who wished to leave during the night or at the latest in the morning, could leave unharmed.” (45)


            In my opinion, this is the limit of honor and generosity.  It was not a threat.  The revolutionaries gave them enough time to get away and avoid the fighting and the bloodshed but this notice fell on deaf ears.  Why?  If the situation were reversed, would they have given the revolutionaries enough notice?  No, because when the Soviet Hungarian Infantry attacked on October 28, we knew about it only an hour before it took place.  That attack was organized from the Party Headquarters.  Ervin Hollos writes:


            “Imre Mező, on the night of the 27th., called together the department heads and secretaries.  He told them that the Central Leadership, on the basis of a decision by the Armed Forces Committee, planned a unified attack against eight or ten of the strongest counter-revolutionary groups.  The Hungarian military and the Secret Police, together with the Soviet military units, would encircle and destroy the Corvin Circle, Baross Park, Széna Square and Móricz Zsigmond Circle groups.” (46)


            Luckily, somebody intervened:  “‘I oppose bloodshed.  If you attack Corvin, I resign.’  In this way, Imre Nagy saved the group in Corvin Circle.” (47)


            If we count the death toll at Köztársaság Square, it is clear that the revolutionaries suffered the heavier loss but none of those, who write about the events of 1956, mentions this.  Compared to the twenty-five AVH deaths at the Party Headquarters, the revolutionaries lost three times that number, not counting the boys who had their hands tied and were shot in the back of the head.


            On October 30, 1956, we were acknowledged as revolutionaries by the lawful Hungarian Government.  Moreover, we were recognized, by this name, by the Communist Party Central Leadership.  The AVH men and the Party functionaries, who were at the Party Headquarters, started to organize unlawfully against us, in spite of the decision of the Government and the Central Leadership.  Why, even in the West, are these facts not mentioned by writers who feel sorry for the AVH men whom they call heroes and who create propaganda about these “heroes” of Köztársaság Square that would bring tears to the eyes?


            In 1975, a book appeared, entitled Remember Hungary, 1956, a nicely-bound book, full of pictures.  The foreword was written by Dr. András Pogány, the President of the World Federation of Hungarian Freedom Fighters.  This book is nothing more than misleading propaganda.  Forty percent of the pictures arouse sympathy for the executioners of Köstársaság Square.  This is not just misleading, it is a falsification of history.  One can clearly call it brainwashing!








            The feelings of the people of Budapest that morning were shared by the Corvinists.  The news that the AVH men were still shooting from the windows and hunting the National Guard, caused enormous disgust and hatred.  The roots of this understandable disgust and hatred ran very deep.  The immeasurable terror which the AVH had imposed on the nation before the Revolution could have been forgiven and forgotten, as can be proved by the events of the 23rd. and the morning of the 24th.  In spite of the fact that we had many dead and injured when we took the radio building, we gave a free passage to the AVH men who were in the building. (In one place, Gosztonyi mentions that there were 300-350 of them;  in another place, he mentions 500-600.) (48)  Even if there had been somebody who might have wanted to harm them, there were many there who would have prevented him.  Not even the officers were hurt, yet they were the cause of the outbreak of the Revolution when they shot into the unarmed crowds.  The new of this action spread and the hatred against the AVH grew in the soul of the entire country.  On October 25,  in front of the Parliament building, they again shot into the unarmed crowd with machine-guns and submachine-guns and left more than two hundred dead and God knows how many injured on the square.  They began to shoot from the roof of the Ministry of Agriculture and the machine-guns of the AVH continued the shooting from the rooftops of the other buildings.  We still do not know who, if anyone, gave the command for the start of the massacre but it is a fact that, with this provocation, the hatred against the AVH grew.  


Picture 15. (p. 149)

Some of the young martyrs of the Massacre at Mosonmagyaróvár.  The Communist propaganda never speaks about this.


            On the following day, October 26, at Mosonmagyaróvár, on the command of Captain Dudás, they opened fire on the unarmed crowd.  Captains Dudás and Vági, Lieutenants Gyenes and Stefkó and the AVH executioners who handled the machine-guns in this inhuman attack, caused 85 to die, left 50 seriously injured and about 100 with less serious injuries.  The Commander of this massacre escaped with his wife and children to Czechoslovakia and he was never held responsible for his action. (49)


            In Miskolc, where the unarmed crowd was demonstrating the freedom of fifty students, imprisoned for their revolutionary ideas, the AVH killed dozens of peasants and women with their machine-guns and hand-grenades. (50)


            The AVH men dug their own graves deeper and deeper.  On one provocation after another, they committed massacres throughout the nation but we revolutionaries had to watch out for the “image of the Revolution”!  The events of the previous day, October 30, in Köztársaság Square, were the last straw.  The continued provocation of the AVH men naturally caused a retaliation from the angry crowd.  The brainwashed world press, even today, mentions this bloody reaction with disgust, but the continued aggressions which caused this retaliation are never mentioned.  The picture of the execution of the AVH men at Köztársaság Square appeared in newspapers throughout the whole world.  However, the press does not mention what preceded this, although books could be written about it.  The agents of János Kádár, at home and aboard, skillfully silence the reports of the events which provoked these executions.  However, the facts don’t change anything.  The end result is the important thing.  The end result is that between October 23, 1956 and November 4, the total number of “lynchings” in the entire country was 31.  Out of these, 18 were in Budapest, 7 in Miskolc, 3 in Mosonmagyaróvár and 3 in Ozd. (51)  These were the only atrocities committed by the revolutionaries.  The same cannot be said of the other side.  After the Revolution, those AVH men whose lives had been spared by the revolutionaries, committed the most extreme acts of revenge.  They imprisoned thousands and hanged hundreds of the most patriotic Hungarians and they had no mercy even for the very young.  I honestly have to admit that, even today, my conscience bothers me and I regret that, in order to preserve the good name of the Revolution, I prevented the lynching of those killers.  I thought that, after the Revolution, they would be brought to justice and punished for their actions.  I believed in the success of the Revolution and therefore I objected to and fought against the lynchings.


            The belief that the Revolution would be successful was shared by all the youth of Budapest.  This is why they took up arms; this is why they put their young lives at stake in the struggle against the Russians and the AVH.  They believed that, even with great bloodshed, we would finally win freedom for our nation.  Those who did not have that belief did not join us when the guns were firing in the streets of Budapest.  We, who fought, were ready to give up our lives because we valued the goal of freedom and independence for the nation above anything else.  We shed tears for many friends and comrades who fell at our side and whose place was taken by new fighters who freely sacrificed their lives for their country.  During this fight, we became more than comrades; we became brothers, baptized in blood.  This baptism by blood made us brothers for life, irrespective of the differences in our political views, moral standards or our religion.  Even in Corvin Circle, many of the fighters carried in their pockets the Communist Party Book, yet fought against the Russians and the AVH.  We also knew that among us were former political prisoners and former convicted criminals.  These men became patriots and heroes!  Doctors and gypsies addressed each other as friends and that was natural because we were closer than comrades.  We were brothers!  This is the way we felt toward each other.  We trusted each other and nobody questioned whether we were all working toward the same goal, the freedom and independence of our nation!


            There were even traitors among us!  One of the platoon leader deputies, who most aroused the boys’ hatred against the AVH, incited the Corvinists to do the lynchings.  In February of 1957, the truth came out that he was a second-lieutenant in the AVH, Péter Renner.  He served in the radio-jamming station at Lakinegy.  We found out about his activities after November 4, when his AVH comrades embraced him.


            In the morning, the Corvinists wanted to go to search for AVH men.  The atmosphere was so tense that lynchings were possible and I had to prevent them under any circumstances.  I called together the youths at Kisfaludy Circle and, standing on the fender of a captured armored car, I began to speak.  I reminded them of the honor of the Revolution and I told them that the courts would soon make the AVH answer for their actions and pay for them but by words fell on deaf ears.  They recalled Scruffy and the others who were killed from behind by snipers who were hiding in the windows.  They wanted to put an end to this situation.  I shouted for half an hour which only resulted in my becoming hoarse.  Finally, I ended the meeting, saying to Erdős and Szabó who were present: “Those who wish to may leave.  After this, the guards will take away the gun and National Guard Identification Card from anyone who leaves Corvin Circle without permission.  Those who leave, may not come back because we do not need common killers here.  It is better that they know now that they will be held responsible for their actions by a court of law.  They will be guilty not only of lynching but also of soiling the honor of the Revolution.  I want you to understand that I am not defending the AVH but the sanctity of our cause,  The AVH men will receive their punishment but, if we kill them, not even God will wash away the name of killers.  After this, everyone must do as his conscience dictates.”  With this, I ended my speech.


Picture 16 ( p. 153)

I was not defending the AVH, but the honor of the Revolution.


            I gave the names of ten men to one of my comrades among the Corvinists, and asked him to request them to come to my office because I wanted to speak to them.  A few minutes later, they came in a group.  I knew that these revolutionaries had previously been imprisoned for political reasons.  I told them that the prisons had only been partly opened and that there were still many men behind bars.  I asked them to go through all the prisons and set free all the political prisoners and use their own judgment about which of the common prisoners they should set free.  I also told them that I found them to be the most suitable people to do that job because they knew best the layout of the prison system, having been there themselves.  After they had accomplished this, each of them was to take two men, armed with machine-guns, and patrol the streets of the capital.  They should stop the looting and lynching.  If they found anyone doing these things, they should arrest them and take them to the Police Headquarters.  I asked them to guard the Public Safety in the City of Budapest and take their responsibilities seriously.


            I had to get ready for a General Meeting of the Commanders of the Revolutionary groups  and the representatives of the Workers’ Council, which was to take place at the Kilián Barracks.  I went there with about as much pleasure as a goat which goes to the slaughterhouse, but there was no other solution;  I had to be there.  Late the previous night, my brother, Ödön, had called me from Deák Square, where he had just taken up residence.  He told me that the meeting would take place at 11 a.m. today at the Kilián Barracks.  In vain, he had told Béla Király that the Corvinists would not be present.  Béla Király strongly insisted that we be there.  I entirely agreed with Ödön, Doc, Erdős and Szabó who decided to boycott the meeting.  The only reason for the boycott was that we did not want any connection with Colonel Maléter.  We did not want to negotiate with traitors and men who had killed our comrades and who, together with the commanders of the Forced Labor Camps, still advised us, on the afternoon of the 29th, to lay down our arms.  We would later be present at the court, when we would charge him with his crimes.  I told Ödön that we would not go unless they changed the place of the General Meeting.  We wanted nothing to do with Kilián.  


            A few minutes later, Zsuzsa called me on the phone.  Béla Király, the Commander of the National Guard, wanted to speak to me.  After Béla Király had pleaded with me for half an hour, I gave in, when he assured me that this meeting had nothing to do with the court case against Maléter.  He, supposedly, had just found out about the situation between us and Maléter when the messengers carried around the invitations to the General Meeting.  It was not possible to change the meeting place because it was too late.  Now unity was the most important and the absence of the Corvinists would not only jeopardize the success of this meeting but could also divide the revolutionaries,  which could have unimaginable consequences.  Béla Király brought to my attention that the Russians had only moved out of Budapest and that the final victory of the Revolution depended on how well we could be united. (52)


            After Béla Király promised to speak to Maléter, I also agreed that some of the commanders of Corvin Circle would go to the General Meeting.  I acknowledged that the Corvinist boycott of that meeting would mean the weakening of the Revolution.  The leaders of the Hungarian Army, who were Soviet sympathizers, the AVH men and certainly the Russian spies, whom I guessed would be there, would all draw a wrong conclusion if we were not present.  Therefore, I gave in to the request of Béla Király. (53)


            At 11 a.m., I went across to Kilián with Doc, Erdős and Szabó.  About three hundred people were already seated in the conference room.  I did not know them but I thought that they were the leaders of the other revolutionary groups and the representatives of the Workers’ Council.  I also saw my brothers, Ödön, Ernő and Bandi, who had arrived earlier.  Béla Király, whom I now met for the first time, welcomed us at the door.  He invited me to sit beside him at the head of the table.  He led me there and we sat down.  The first three places were unoccupied.  He sat in the second place and I sat in the third, to the left of me Police-Colonel Sándor Kopácsi, Brigadiers-general István Kovács, Gyula Váradi and Horváth. (54)  We all introduced ourselves.  Maléter was not yet in the room and the General Meeting had not yet started.  I spoke with Béla Király and Kopácsi for a while, then I asked Király if we could begin the meeting because I had so much to do at Corvin.  However, he was waiting for Maléter to come, as the host of the meeting.  A few minutes later, Maléter arrived, stopped on the other side of Béla Király  and began to speak.  I don’t remember what he said because I was not paying attention.  I asked Béla Király if this is what he had promised me on the telephone.  He excused himself by saying that he had not been able to find Maléter and could not speak to him before the meeting.  Since he was the host, he asked me to let him finish speaking.


            Just then, a soldier came in and called Maléter to the telephone.  Béla Király stood up and took his place but, before he could start speaking, somebody stood up and shouted: “Long live Maléter, the hero of Budapest!”


            When I heard that and the applause which followed, I lost my self-control and I asked to speak.  Béla Király must have known what would happen because he told me to wait.  “I won’t wait, I want to speak now!”  I shouted.  I stood up and began to speak.  Béla Király did not try to stop me. (55)


            “Comrades!  I ask you all to be silent because I cannot shout.  You can hear that I am hoarse.  However, I would like you all to hear what I want to say, because it is important.

            “Someone among you shouted, ‘Long live Maléter, the hero of Budapest!’  I hope the person who shouted this is not an AVH man, but just misinformed because, for his deeds up to now only the Russians and the AVH could call Maléter a hero.  On October 25, Maléter came to the Kilián Barracks and immediately began to fight against us.  His assistant, Captain Szabó, and several of his officers were killed with our bullets and he caused us heavy casualties also, with the bullets of his soldiers and those of the AVH men. (56)

            “On October 26, the Corvinists, who were occupying that part of the barracks on the Kör Avenue side, had used up their ammunition and, on October 30, they came down from the building to cross over to Corvin for ammunition.  They wanted to go out of the main gate, because that was the shortest way to Corvin which, as you know, is on the other side of Üllö Avenue but, before they could reach the gate, Maléter and his men, who were hidden behind the pillars of the courtyard with their guns ready, encircled the thirty boys and Maléter told them to throw down their weapons beside a pillar.  The revolutionaries refused to obey that order, saying that they were going to Corvin to get ammunition and that they would not part with their weapons.  Then Colonel Maléter killed two of the boys with his pistol.  He asked the others if they wanted him to continue to shoot them one by one, or choose to throw down their weapons.  They had no ammunition so they laid down their arms beside the pillar.  Then Maléter ordered one of his soldiers to open the gate and throw the twenty-eight unarmed revolutionaries onto Üllö Avenue into the crossfire.  As they were running across to Corvin, only twenty-one reached the other side.  Seven fell.  If these fallen boys were your comrades, would you then call Maléter the hero of Budapest?”


            I wanted to continue and tell them of the advice he gave Ödön on the evening of October 27 and to me on the morning of the 28th., but I saw that Maléter had come back into the room.  He remained standing at the side of Béla Király.


            “Comrades, I do not wish to talk of Maléter’s crimes behind his back, therefore I will repeat what I have just told you.  Now that he is here, perhaps he can tell you why he committed those crimes for which he will have to answer in front of a judge when law and order is restored.”


            Maléter’s answer was short.  “Yes, it is true that I smacked two boys across the face.  I don’t deny it.  Even now, I would slap anyone that I find with a gold watch or jewelry in his pocket.  We were not fighting during the Revolution so that these robbers could soil the image of the Revolution.  The Revolution was successful and we have to look ahead and not back.  We will have time to settle our differences when the Russians have left Hungary.  Until then, we need unity.  We are the true comrades-in-arms and brothers of Mustache and the Corvinists and, in the interest of the Revolution, we have to overlook each other’s mistakes and forgive each other.  Anyone who does not do this is a traitor to the Revolution.  Among us comradeship and the spirit of friendliness rule and nothing can take that away.”


            He leaned over Béla Király’s head, grabbed my neck with his left hand and, before I knew it, he pulled me to him and kissed me. (57)


            A storm of applause broke out and, at the same time, shouts could be heard: “We do not want to work with Maléter!” “Maléter is a killer and a traitor to the Revolution.  He has no business among us!”


             I unbuckled the pistol from my belt and threw it onto the table.  I indicated to my comrades, who were shouting, that they should quiet down because I wanted to speak.  Slowly order returned and I said:


            “Comrades!  The last few days have demanded hard fighting and many losses from the youths of Budapest, so that we could finally win freedom for our nation.  The Corvinists stood their ground in this battle as well as the revolutionaries of Széna Square, Baross Park and Tűzoltó Street.  Among us all are comradeship and friendship because we all fought for the same goal against the same enemy.  The blood which was shed by our wounded and fallen brothers obliges us to defend the ideals for which they gave their lives.  We regard as enemies those who fired at us in the most severe days of the Revolution, whether they were Russians, AVH men or Hungarian soldiers.  Now, after the victory of the Revolution, I am not willing to regard as a comrade a man who caused some of us to die.   And if you, the leaders of the Revolution, still consider Maléter to be a hero of the Revolution, then I have had enough of this Revolution.  I have no place among you.


            “I know that the purpose of this General Meeting was to declare Maléter Defense Minister and reaffirm Béla Király as Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard.  I believe that I have said enough about Maléter but, of Béla Király, I will just say that, on October 28, he came out of the hospital where he had been during the Revolution.  Not long before that, he was released from the prison where the Rákosi clique had imprisoned him, after sentencing him to death.  The Corvinists have no objections against him, because he did not kill any of us and they accept Imre Nagy’s choice of him as Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard.  However if, in this General Meeting, Maléter is selected for any kind of position, I declare it treason and I do not want any part of it.”


            Béla Király took over.  He briefly told the audience that the Revolutionary Armed Forces Committee had been established, with himself as President, Police-Colonel Sándor Kopácsi as Vice-President, Ödön Pongrátz, Tamás Csati, Vilmos Olah and one other revolutionary as members.  He read aloud Imre Nagy’s declaration, the text of which follows:


            “The representatives of the revolutionary units which took part in the Revolution, the Army, the Police, the workers and youth are in the process of forming a Revolutionary Armed Forces Committee.  In the name of the Cabinet of the Hungarian People’s Republic, I acknowledge and confirm the formation of this preparatory committee, established on this very day.


            “The Revolutionary Armed Forces Committee should be active until the new Government is elected by secret ballot in a General Election.

                                                                                                Imre Nagy

                                                President of the Hungarian People’s Republic.” (58)

            With this, the General Meeting came to an end. (59)  The next day, November 1, in the Army newspaper, A Magyar Honvéd, articles appeared (60) with the titles: Revolutionary Groups Form into National Guard, and General Meeting at Kilián, which distorted the importance of the meeting, failed to mention the most important parts of the meeting, misinforming the public.  The spirit of these articles remains, even today, in Hungary and in the West, in publications dealing with Maléter.  “The Freedom Fighters of the Kilián Barracks fought side by side with the youths of Corvin Circle against the attacking Soviet tanks.”  “In the Committee, Colonel Pál Maléter, the Commander of the Kilián Barracks, sat beside Comrade Pongrátz, the Commander of Corvin Circle” and other notations of a similar nature.  What a barefaced lie!

Reproduction of Newspaper Article (p. 159)

            Other writers and historians adopted the account of the joint efforts of Corvin Circle and the Kilián Barracks, described by Second-Lieutenant, Péter Gosztonyi, in this article.  Moreover, Péter Gosztonyi, in his book, published in 1981, A magyar forradalom története (History of the Hungarian Revolution), continues to describe it as such, now as a historian, not as a second-lieutenant.  Péter Gosztonyi’s book about the Revolution is good, except on the question of Maléter, and it includes many data which I quote.  The trouble is that he, and all those who have written books and essays about the Revolution up to now, in Hungary and abroad, adopt the view that “History is made by historians”.  This gives them the right to twist the truth and ignore important facts, according to the dictates of their political interests or world view.  What interests do these writers and historians serve?  Surely not those of the youths of Budapest whose military and political ideals can be expressed in three short words: “Mindent a hazaért!” (All for the homeland!)

            Only a few hours after the General Meeting at the Kilián Barracks, the radio aired the following important announcement:

            “The Presidential Advisory Board of the People’s Republic relieved Lajos Tóth of his titles of First Deputy Minister of Defense and President of the Army Chiefs-of-Staff and appointed Pál Maléter to the position of First Deputy and István Kovács as President of the Army Chiefs-of-Staff.  The Advisory Board of the Hungarian People’s Republic appointed Brigadier-General Béla Király to the position of Army Commander of the Capital.” (61)

            You can imagine how this announcement affected us!  In the afternoon of November 2, they appointed a Russian sympathizer, a Communist colonel, to the position of Deputy Minister of Defense who, during the Revolution, shot at us himself, ordered others to fire at us, and caused several dozens of deaths among us; a man who never fired a single bullet against the Russians and never ordered his soldiers to fire against them.  The Russian tank cemetery, on the corner of Üllö Avenue and Kör Avenue, which could be seen by everybody on the first day of November, was made by the Communists, but in vain.  By linking together Corvin and Kilián, Maléter’s Communist friends gave him the credit for the successful battles in that district and gave him the title of “Colonel Maléter, the hero of Kilián Barracks.”  If they were fighting during the battles, they were firing at us, the revolutionaries.  With this, they made enormous propaganda for him which the press and the radio publicized.  For example:

            On October 31, at 12:00 noon:  “Yesterday, Károly Nagy filmed the action at one of the strongholds of the Revolution, the György Kilián Barracks.”  For them, Corvin did not even exist and they accorded all the military achievements to Kilián. (62)

            October 31, at 10:55 a.m.:  “Now we announce the members of the Revolutionary Army Committee of the Hungarian People’s Republic: Béla Király, Colonel Pál Maléter, Commander of the armed youth of the György Kilián Barracks . . .”  Béla Király’s rank was not announced.  They also failed to announce who was shot  by the armed youths under the command of Maléter. (63)

            October 31, 20:03: “We thought about the ruined Kilián Barracks because we knew for sure that it was one of the strongholds of our freedom and we thought of the other unknown strongholds in which true heroes were fighting.”  This was written by Aurél Molnár. (64)

            October 28, 20:28: “The battle at the György Kilián Barracks and around - - - - - came to a stop.  The latter received much help from the radio announcement made by envoys from the Kilián Barracks, who told their comrades to lay down their arms and, in the name of the Government, they granted them amnesty.”  So on the evening of October 28, the radio not only attributed the success of the battles around Corvin to the Kilián Barracks, but also mentioned the envoys as coming from there.  The name of Corvin was never mentioned on the radio and it appears that it was erased from the tape.  Who else but Communist agents would have done this? (65)

            October 30, 22:43:  “The armed revolutionaries call upon the people of the nation! . . . After the fighting and after the Soviet Army had begun to move out of the country, Comrades Kádár and Münnich sat down together with the commanders of the revolutionary armed youth.  After about three hours of negotiations, they decided to form the Ninth District Revolutionary Youth Committee, which consisted of the Kilián Barracks, Tompa Street, Corvin Circle, Tűzoltó Street and Berence Street, all belonging to the seventh and ninth districts.”

            First of all, Comrades Kádár and Münnich never sat down with us.  Secondly, we knew nothing about this call to “the people of the nation” and the formation of this kind of committee.  Naturally we would not have been a part of it.  Kádár and Münnich would have known this and therefore they decided upon it in our name.  Thirdly, among the nine signatures, the “Gergely brothers” seemingly represented Corvin.  It appears that they did not want to use the Pongrátz name.  The signatures ended in this way: “Comrade Colonel Maléter, Comrade Captain Csiba, Commanders of the armed groups of the eighth and ninth districts, and representatives of the populace.” (66)

            The Communist agents thus made propaganda not only for “Comrade Colonel Maléter” but also for “Comrades Kádár and Münnich”.  We know that these last two, on November 2, sold the freedom which we had won.

            Ervin Hollos also links Kilián with Corvin.  “The commanders of Kilián and Corvin made an agreement that they would cover for each other.  They saw that their task was to protect both the Kilián Barracks and Corvin Circle.” (67)

            “A reporter from the newspaper Igazság (The Truth), published a conversation with Colonel Maléter, the hero of Kilián.” (68)

            On November 1, at 10:08 a.m., the Corvinists made a radio announcement:

            “Hungarians!  We, the young Freedom Fighters of Corvin Circle, have been fighting up to now, not talking.  Now that we can finally talk, our first serious words to our Hungarian brothers are that we should keep the most perfect order, everywhere.  Where there is no order, we should establish it.  In this way, we will not provide an excuse for the Russians to stay in the country to keep the peace.  The keeping of peace and order is the most important national duty even before the Party interest.  Breaking this order is treason.  We ask everyone to listen to us so that we cannot say that the blood of our young brothers was shed in vain.” (69)

            That same afternoon, this announcement appeared in an altered form on posters around the city, changed by the comrades of Maléter.

            “Hungarians!  We, the young Freedom Fighters of Corvin Circle (Kilián) have been fighting up to now, not talking, etc.”  The signature was also changed: “The young Freedom Fighters of Corvin Circle (Kilián).” (70)

            Thus the propaganda from the Party Headquarters made Maléter “the hero of Budapest”.  There could be two reasons that Maléter was selected and elevated.  One was that he was in the Kilián Barracks, right next to Corvin, where the Russians suffered their heaviest losses during the Revolution.  They knew that if they linked Corvin and Kilián, the people would attribute the results of the Revolution to the well-trained soldiers and not to the self-sacrificing heroism of the revolutionaries.  With that cunning propaganda, they made the country and the world believe that the Russians were beaten, not by civilians but by Maléter, “the hero of the Revolution” and his soldiers.  The other reason for the glorification of Maléter was that, on the basis of his political past, the Communist Russian sympathizers could place him in a leading position without danger.  In the Party headquarters they knew well his past about which I learned in the afternoon of November 3.  Not everybody knows Maléter’s past.

            On December 6, 1942, after graduating from the Ludovica Military Academy, he received his commission, as Second-Lieutenant, from Miklós Horthy, Regent of Hungary.  In World War II., he was sent to the front in the spring of 1944 where, a few days after his arrival, he was not captured as many people thought but, according to his commanding officer, he defected to the Russian side.  There he met Zoltán Vas and, according to Gosztonyi,  they became good friends right away.  Zoltán Vas was one of Imre Nagy’s two inseparable friends, according to Béla Király.  (71)  In the summer of 1944, Maléter fought against his former Hungarian comrades and, in the fall of the same year, he was entrusted with the leadership of a partisan group in the territory of Késmark.  He achieved such success as the leader of the partisan group that, in 1945, in acknowledgment of his good work, he was appointed to be the Commander of the Guard Battalion of the first Democratic Hungarian Army, with the rank of Captain.  At the end of the war, in the temporary prison camp in Debrecen, which was under his command, Hungarian and German prisoners-of-war were classified and put into wagons under his supervision and they were then herded into cattle wagons on the long trains which left daily for Siberia.

            When the Debrecen Government was formed in 1946, he was appointed bodyguard of Zoltán Tildy, the President of the Hungarian Republic, without the rank of major.  Zoltán Tildy was the other inseparable partner of Imre Nagy during the Revolution. (72)  In 1946, revengeful rage broke out in Hungary.  Daily, dozens of “war criminals” were hanged, among them many Hungarian patriots who had to be moved out of the way of Communism.  After the announcement of the death sentence, Zoltán Tildy almost always refused any plea for mercy and, because he was a Protestant minister, in Hungary he was called “the Reverend Executioner”.  At this time, Tildy and Maléter became good friends.  Rákosi knew what he was doing.  Maléter, a well-tried Communist from the Smallholders’ Party, whose influence was apparent, was placed as bodyguard of the President of the Republic.  Those unfortunate people, who were members of the Smallholders’ Party, can talk of this with sorrow and accuse Tildy of turning their party over to Communism.  It is possible that, for the sake of his position and his career, Tildy betrayed his party and his country.  Rákosi, therefore, used this “ambition” in politics and in the military.  He used men as long as he needed them, in order to establish his dictatorship.  Afterwards, some of them managed to escape but the majority of these career-men ended their lives in prison or on the gallows.  As I have already mentioned, in the months after the hanging of László Rajk, about fifty generals were hanged.  These were the people who had contributed to the merciless regime of the Communist dictatorship in Hungary.  After they had finished their dirty work, they were disposed of, and I can’t regard them as martyrs of the Hungarian nation.  It is not his death but the ideal for which he sacrificed his life which makes a man a martyr.  Those who sold themselves for their career became partners of Rákosi in the genocide of the nation   We cannot regard these men as martyrs.  This applied to Maléter also, who lost his life because he furthered his own career and not because he showed a strong belief in the ideals of the Revolution.  László Rajk, Foreign Minister, was convinced by János Kádár, Minister of the Interior, to admit to crimes he had never committed, with the promise that, in the Soviet Union, he could continue to build Socialism in comfort.  When the hangman placed the noose around Rajk’s neck, Rajk saw his friend of ten years, Kádár, who had to watch the hanging, and he shouted to him: “János, you betrayed me!” (73)

            A few months later, Kádár was sentenced to forced labor for the rest of his life.  Did he deserve this?  If we look at his sins committed later, he surely did, but we cannot regard Kádár as a hero either, just because he suffered through the prisons of Rákosi and was terribly tortured.   For these men, either their own career or the victory of the Marxist philosophy was of the utmost importance but not the fate of the Hungarian nation.  They lost their lives because they were a part of a regime of killers but they were not martyrs.  Zoltán Tildy managed to get through the Rákosi reign of terror with a house-arrest.  Béla Kovács, however, who was another leader of the Smallholders’ Party, and who did not give in to Rákosi, spent ten years in a Siberian prison.  Isn’t there a difference between them?

            Maléter worked in the Ministry of Defense from 1950 to 1953, in the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.  Here he noticed that his wife, who was from an aristocratic family, was in the way of his career.  Therefore he divorced her.  Soon after that, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel and he became the Commander of the Army Forced Labor Camp.  That position could be held only by a man who had proved his loyalty to the regime.

            The soldiers in this forced labor camp were Hungarian youths whom the regime viewed as politically unreliable and therefore unworthy to handle weapons.  Instead, they received picks and shovels and were made to work in construction and in the mines.  There was no difference between them and the soldiers of the forced labor camps of the Second World War, whose guards and officers were hanged by the hundreds and imprisoned by the thousands in 1945 and 1946, as “fascist killers”.  Only one thing made these later members of the forced labor camps different from those of the Second World War and that was that the majority of them were the sons of Hungarian peasants who were called “kulaks” only because they had more than 25 “holds” of land.  Others were sons of Hungarians who were imprisoned by the Communist regime for political reasons.  Ervin Hollos writes about this:

            “Above all, it is not an unimportant circumstance that the so-called forced labor workers of the Kilián Barracks were children of the former ruling class and children of war criminals, sons of kulaks, and youths who had been in prison several times, who worked at different construction sites.  On October 23, there were 1500 such members of the Kilián Barracks.  It is really not without interest that the Commander of the National Forced Labor Camp was Colonel Pál Maléter.” (74)


            Ervin Hollos also writes: “The attackers of the radio station obtained weapons from the Forced Labor Camp at the Kilián Barracks, heavy machine-guns, submachine-guns, light automatic guns and hand-grenades.  Therefore, already on the night of the 23rd., Kilián Barracks was an important center and base for the armed attacks.” (75)


            Hollos falsifies the historical facts in the barefaced manner of a socialist historian and neglects to mention that, in the armory of a forced labor camp, the only weapons are spades, picks and shovels.  Beside the ten to fifteen submachine-guns of the guards, there were no other weapons at Kilián at that time.  Let us see what Péter Gosztonyi, who was a second-lieutenant in Kilián, writes about that subject:


            “We took an inventory of our weapons and ammunition.  We found hardly any.  A few guns and submachine-guns.  No machine-guns, no hand-grenades, no gasoline cylinders either.” (76)  On October 26, Gostonyi wrote this in his log.  (Elsewhere, he mentions that the Russians destroyed the corner of the barracks because of a machine-gun that was there but he fails to mention that, that machine-gun was the one that the revolutionaries took from the first destroyed armored car on the 24th.)  He talked about the Csepel Company that fought with the Corvinists, as belonging to the Kilián Barracks, but Maléter himself shot two of them.


Picture 17 (p.167)

The Corvinists took the heavy machine-gun from the first Russian armored car and installed it on the corner of the Kilián Barracks.  This is why the Russians destroyed that corner.


 Gosztonyi continues in his log of the 26th.:

            “At dusk, a Soviet major called Maléter to the phone.  He asked for a report on the situation, and he mentioned fascists and capitalists.  Maléter answered with the greatest calm and measured politeness and tried to explain to the Soviet major that he had found no fascists or capitalists in the area and, if the Soviet comrades would leave the district, if they would cease the senseless destruction of the houses in this neighborhood, then law and order would be re-established . . .  That day, the Soviet tanks did not come toward us.” (77)


            But they came against us at Corvin, and that day the heaviest fighting of the Revolution took place.  During that day, the Russians suffered more losses than they had suffered in all the days of the Revolution put together.  (Pictures 18, 19)


            János Molnár writes in the Hungarian Historical Society Review:

            “The Corvinists, before they accepted the leadership of Maléter and Béla Király, united smaller neighboring groups under one command and, on October 31, at the meeting called to form the National Guard, they presented themselves as Corvinists, with about two thousand men.” (78)


            The Corvinists never accepted Maléter’s leadership; we did not even want to go to this “formation conference”.  After Maléter’s appointment, not only did we not trust him, but we also did not trust the Ministry of Defense which was under his leadership.  This is why we had absolutely no connections with the Army, except for a few soldiers.   Two pages farther on, Molnár continues:

            “When Imre Nagy intervened to remove the only obstacle which could have prevented the formation of this armed force – the attack against the revolutionary forces – then all they would have had to do was convince the revolutionary groups to accept the leadership of Maléter and Béla Király.  The revolutionaries, especially the Corvinists, for actual reasons and for tactical reasons, did not trust Maléter.  This distrust was political in character because it reflected the view of their politically reactionary leaders.  This distrust and attack on Maléter, which Maléter, in his speech, intended to diminish or dissolve, also had another purpose, to make it known to Maléter and through him, Imre Nagy, that the revolutionaries insisted on keeping their arms.  Even at the meeting on October 31, the revolutionaries felt it important, for tactical reasons, to stand up to Maléter because, with this resistance, they could show Maléter and his friends why the Corvinists took part in such large numbers in the so-called Operations Committee.” (79)

            According to this, Molnár knew very well what happened at the meeting on October 31, but he does not write about it.  He fails to write the truth, just like the western writers, except for one. (80)

            That distrust was not political in character, not was it for tactical reasons but, as I said at the meeting, it was military in character.  What separated us were the dozens of dead for which we could not forgive the Defense Minister of the Revolution.  Those who caused the distrust were not the politically “reactionary” leaders, but those comrades that we put into coffins.  That was the reason that we did not want to allow more Communist “salami tactics”.  We could not allow them to steal the Revolution from us!

            Why do people like Molnár and Hollos, and their counterparts in the West, falsify history and omit or twist the important details of that meeting of October 31?  Is it because they do not dare to write the truth?   It is possible that more than half of the several hundred people taking part in that meeting, who applauded Maléter and called him the hero of Budapest, were Communist agents planted there.  The other half, however, were Freedom Fighters, who did not want to see Maléter as the head of the victorious Revolution because they knew that he took no part in the victory.  Yet he got there in spite of our distrust and our objections.

            In the Hungarian Historical Society Review, János Molnár continues:

            “One very important goal of the meeting was to introduce Maléter and Béla Király as leaders of the Revolution.  The Corvinists had certain objections to Maléter and, trusting in Béla Király rather than him, they nominated Béla Király to be Minister of Defense instead of Maléter.  The incident of the argument between Maléter and the Corvinists and their subsequent reconciliation was very important because it demonstrated that the revolutionaries were not looters, and also that the revolutionaries had no need of armed support from the West.  The Corvinists accused Maléter of shooting at the revolutionaries and, later on, of slapping one of them.  Maléter’s answer was applauded.  He said that he slapped the “revolutionary” because he found a string of pearls on him and that he chased another one away because he called him “Sir” instead of “Comrade”.  It is possible that this argument had been prepared ahead of time because Maléter had, on several occasions, spoken with the leaders of the Corvinists and, particularly after their talk on the 29th., there could not have been great differences between them.” (81)


Picture 18 (p.169)

The Soviet tanks, which wandered toward Corvin, became scrap metal.


            As I have already written, at the meeting on the 29th., Maléter was motioned to be quiet and he listened to the end.  The little he said in his answer came from an enemy and not from a Freedom Fighter.  Molnár should have known this because, among the generals present at that meeting, there were many who went back to Kádár and told him what really happened at the meeting.

            Regarding the very important goal of the meeting, “to introduce Maléter and Béla Király as leaders of the Revolution”, I wish to note that not only Maléter and Király fell into the hands of the Communists but also the leaders of the Army and the Police.  These people, like Maléter, served the Russians to the end and trusted them.  It is a fact that the members of the Government were either members of the Communist Party or, in the interest of their careers, servants of the Russians.  These people were called “leaders of the Revolution” and, in Maléter’s case, it was because of personal connections.  We can see that the propaganda, which the AVH and the Soviet sympathizers undertook in the interest of building up Maléter, gave the basis for his appointment.  They knew that the Freedom Fighters, especially if this appointment was presented as an established fact, could not do anything.   Our objections were in vain; everywhere they fell on deaf ears.  For us, the most important thing was the victory of the Revolution and that is really why we had to accept this established fact.  We calmed our seething feelings with the thought that we had to accept these people only until the free elections.  Until then the weapons would remain in our hands.  The elections would solve this problem and we would accept the will of the nation.  No matter to which position Maléter was appointed, he would have to answer for his crimes in an independent court of law. 

            Apart from Maléter and Király, the Government of Imre Nagy appointed many Communists to military and political positions.  It is interesting to note that we, together with our supposedly reactionary advisors, only objected to Maléter.  Not because he was a Communist but because of his actions against us during the Revolution.  Therefore, our objection was not against the Communists in general, although they would like to attribute our attack against the Party Headquarters on Köztársaság Square to an anti-Communist  position, but only against those Communists who caused deaths among us.  At Köztársaság Square, we did not attack the Communists, as they would like the world to believe, but we attacked the common mass murderers who were organizing against us and whom the Kádár regime now declares to be heroes. 


Picture 19 (p.171)

The Russians pay for it.


            Some people call the incident at Köztársaság Square “a regrettable event” but they do not take into account that the lynchings were provoked by the mass murderers.  These mass murderers and the leaders who ordered them to fire and who, according to Ervin Hollos, fired also, not only on the attackers but on the Red Cross ambulances, were sentenced to death by the angry and provoked people.  The events which took place at the Parliament building on the 25th., at Miskolc and at Magyaróvár on the 26th., were nothing but provocations which caused the reaction.  What is amazing is that this reaction, in the form of lynchings, caused very few deaths during the “Victorious Revolution” for, in the whole country, only 31 people lost their lives in this way.  These cannot even be attributed to the Freedom Fighters, because we were protecting the good name of the Revolution.  We believed in the final victory and we believed that these Communist agents would receive their punishment from an impartial court.  We thought that it would be this way for Maléter too but his comrades tried to save him and, in the unrest following the Revolution, even went as far as appointing him to the position of Minister of Defense.  We will never find out how many people like Maléter appeared during the Revolution, how many and who they were, whom the Government of Imre Nagy named leaders of the Revolution, if not ministers, whose hands were bloodied with the blood of the Freedom Fighters.

            I do not blame Imre Nagy for these appointments but I blame those who gave false information to Imre Nagy, who was completely misinformed.  We knew that, during those days, he had tremendous problems.  He had to restore order inside the country, with the Russian tanks hanging like the sword of Damocles over the newly-gained freedom.  We know that, as Prime Minister of the Revolution, he did everything he could to avoid that danger.  We cannot blame him because the Americans, from whom we were expecting diplomatic aid, sent an untimely telegram which cut that thread.  At the beginning of the Revolution, we revolutionaries were opposing Imre Nagy but, after October 28, the Freedom Fighters stood by him and remained faithfully with him to the end.  Moreover, the revolutionaries accepted the appointees of Imre Nagy, not knowing that they had blood on their hands  It does not mean that these men were not killers, just because they were accepted by the revolutionaries and appointed as members of the Government by Imre Nagy.   Kádár, Münnich and others, who took part in the Government of the workers and peasants, committed not only mass murders but national genocide.  Maléter was so much a part of this group that, during the visit of Khrushchev and Malenkov at Brion, on November 2, Tito mentioned the name of Maléter as a possible candidate for President but the Soviets chose Kádár instead.  This proves that Maléter was executed, not for his actions but, as a symbol, as the Defense Minister of the Revolution.  He became the victim of his own career. 





            The numbers of Corvinists continued to grow on November 1, because all those who were in the area and who saw the results of the battle wanted to join us.  On that day, we already had a full list of names and we distributed the identity cards of the members of the National Guard but we did not wish to expand the numbers.  The Corvin National Guard Regiment was formed and was the largest unit of Freedom Fighters in the Revolution, whose organization was still in progress.  The Corvin National Guard Regiment was acknowledged as a unit which played an important political and military role.

            The Fehér Könyv (White Book) describes it as “the most trusted National Guard Regiment”.  The few sentences which appear under the above title are full of distortions and obvious lies:

            “On November 1, a new commander was elected in Corvin Circle.  The revolutionaries gathered in the small square in front of the cinema and the nominees for commander appeared in the windows on the second floor.  A colonel made a speech and praised the qualities of the Pongrátz brothers.  ‘Hurrah!’ shouted the revolutionaries. ‘I nominate Gergely Pongrátz as Commander-in-Chief,’ said the colonel.  With this the election was effected.

            In the first place, the election of Commander took place on October 30, in the way that I have already recorded.  The White Book continues the tale:

            “After October 31, Corvin Circle became one of the centers of the National Guard.  They did not unite with the Army or the Police.  The escaped prisoners dressed in army uniforms and formed platoons and companies.  From the Corvinists, a separate regiment, ‘the most trusted regiment’ was formed.”

            Naturally, the Corvinists did not merge with the Army, one of whose leaders was Maléter, whom we did not trust at all.  We did not want to merge with the Police either.  However, we knew nothing unfavorable of their leader, Sándor Kopácsi.  He had served as Police Captain of Budapest under Rákosi and Gerő.  We accepted the Government appointees until the free elections but that did not mean that we trusted those people.  We went as far as trusting them as administrative leaders.  To merge with the Army or the Police would have meant that those people who were responsible for the success of the Revolution would be slowly disarmed and replaced by people who either did not take up arms during the Revolution or who fired on us.  We also had to watch that, while the Russians still remained in the territory of Hungary, the victory won at a great price should not be endangered by such persons who climbed onto the wagon of the victorious Revolution without taking part in the fight.

            As to the expression, “the most trusted regiment of the National Guard”, this had a military and a political basis.  The military basis was that which everybody could see around Corvin on November 1.  In other words, one could see only what remained.  During the intermission between the battles, and especially at night after the battles, the Russian dead were picked up and removed by Russian Red Cross vehicles. Nobody ever bothered them, and they could do their sorrowful work without fear.  The destroyed tanks and trucks, the captured tanks, out of which the Russians climbed with their hands above their heads, the cannons which we used, the light and heavy machine-guns with which the Corvinists were armed, all prove that the revolutionaries won that trust.  However, unprepared they were as soldiers, they proved that their patriotism and self-sacrifice reached heights which caused the defeat of the Russian troops stationed in Hungary at that time.  That was the basis for the military trustworthiness which the revolutionaries won for themselves.  The political basis was also very strong.  We actually did not want anything other than the accomplishment of the sixteen points of the university students.  These sixteen points were the political basis of the entire Hungarian Revolution.  Therefore, we could not permit anybody to add to or take away from them.  For these demands, many of our comrades had sacrificed their  lives and we felt that, even after the Revolution, it would still be our duty to protect them.  We knew what we wanted and we were not willing to compromise.  Neither Party interest nor personal ambition could change these ideals, no matter what kind of party or what kind of person was involved.  We took up arms against an unimaginably superior force, to fight for the freedom of the Hungarian nation, based on these sixteen points and, when we won, the memory of our comrades obliged us to remain faithful to their ideals.  Therefore, that gave us the unshakable political basis to become “the most trusted regiment of the National Guard”.  These politics did not belong to any political party because they were the politics of the whole nation.  We did not betray them.  The White Book continues:

            “From the Bányász Cinema, a smaller group moved to Corvin Circle during the first days.  The Tompa Street, Rada Street and Bezered Street revolutionary groups wanted to remain independent but, even so, they sent a liaison to Corvin Circle.  Práter Street and Tűzoltó Street gathered together a much larger armed group.  The former was under the command of Corvin Circle and the latter also worked with them and moreover made connections with the Writers’ Association through Otto Szirmai.” (82)

            We really did get help from the Bányász Cinema, where the miners, brought in from Tatabánya by József Bocskay were fighting and who, from the very first days, belonged to Corvin just like the Práter Street School revolutionaries or those occupying the district of Kör Avenue around the Kilián Barracks.  We worked together with the other groups during the battles but the negotiations to bring them all under one command began on October 28 and did not end until the evening of November 3.  The unification of these groups was necessary but did not take place as Molnár writes  in the Századok:  “They accomplished the unification of the smaller groups under one command and when, on October 31, they appeared as Corvinists at the meeting to form the National Guard, they had around two thousand armed men.” (83)

            The truth is that there was no other purpose for our unification than the strengthening of the military and political unity of the Revolution.  Not only the smaller groups but also the larger groups acknowledged the role of leadership played by Corvin during the battles.  In many cases, the unification of these groups took place at their own request and they accepted the strict discipline of the Corvinists. 


Picture 20 (p. 177)

József Bocskai observes the AVH snipers hiding in the windows on Kör Avenue.


            Ervin Hollos also writes of this in the following manner: “Maléter and Béla Király already recognized the Commander-in-Chief of Corvin Circle on October 29, or rather on October 31.  Pál Maléter many times paid a visit to the headquarters of Corvin to give advice and they came to a ‘final agreement’ which they put in writing.  With this, Corvin Circle was officially recognized as an “armed organization” which had a direct telephone line to the Ministry of Defense.  On November 1, at the meeting which was held at Kisfaludy Circle, the leaders of the revolutionary groups of Ferenc Boulevard, Ferenc Square, Tűzoltó Street, Tompa Street and from the tenth district police headquarters, announced that they were under the command of Corvin Circle, that they would carry out the orders of the Commander of Corvin, and that they would fight alongside the Corvinists.  The revolutionaries of Baross Park operated in the closest cooperation with the Corvinists, and accepted the Commander of Corvin Circle and his directives. (84)


            “On November 3, the command of Corvin Circle attempted to establish military regulations and divide the more than three thousand revolutionaries, (according to some data, four thousand) into squads and companies.  They organized guards, made a seal, issued identification cards and permits for leave.  Even on the identification cards for the National Guard, issued by Béla Király, they stamped their own seal: ‘The Corvin Command of the National Revolutionary Committee’.  Only one hundred and twenty men who were involved in reconnaissance, arrests and interrogations received the identification cards stamped: ‘Corvin Brigade’.” (85)


            This is what is written in the White Book and now let us see the truth.  First of all, we never committed anything to paper, stating that we would work together with Maléter.   I have already written about our connections with the Ministry of Defense, especially after Maléter became the Deputy Minister.  Therefore, under such circumstances, a direct telephone line was not even necessary.  It simply did not exist.  The military discipline already existed among the Corvinists on November 1 and it was later strengthened.  It is true that the events which occurred on October 31 contributed to it, when the revolutionaries wanted to go and pick up the AVH snipers.  This is what prompted us to issue passes for leave.  I signed the identification cards which were given out to my comrades because I had no name stamp.  The only seal on these identification cards was the seal of Corvin Circle.  The members of the special units also received identification cards.  It is true that our organization received a lot of help from the officers of the Zrinyi Academy, who served as advisors to the revolutionary commanders.


            In the morning of November 1, a young Catholic priest approached me and asked if he might celebrate Mass on an improvised altar in the cinema for those revolutionaries who wished to attend.  Not only had I no objection, but I was very glad that, here in Corvin, we would have the opportunity to pray for our fallen comrades and give thanks to God for the help He had given us.  I asked Szabó to go and look for the commander of the guards and tell him to allow those revolutionaries who wished to attend Mass to be relieved by those who did not wish to attend.  He should also tell the youths that no matter what religion they belonged to, if their duties allowed, they might come and pray for the souls of their comrades.  However attendance was not mandatory.  Mass would begin at ten.


            The cinema was almost filled with armed revolutionaries, for there were very few who did not wish to attend or whose duties would not allow them to come.  The priest gave a short but very touching homily which brought tears to the eyes of everyone present.  The Mass began with the National Anthem and ended with the Szózat, the second Hungarian National Anthem.  Everyone sang at the top of his voice and with all the feeling he could express and it felt as if the whole building shook. 


            As we came out of the building, the commander of the guard came to me and reported that the Hungarian Army was dragging away the destroyed Russian tanks, trucks and armored cars from Kör Avenue.  I was angry that, without my permission, which they would not have received anyway, the Hungarian Army was dragging away that barricade which was better than any we could have built for ourselves.  I ordered a guard to stand beside each destroyed vehicle, with orders to use his weapon, if necessary, to prevent someone from taking away the vehicle.  From this territory, nobody would be able to take even a piece of scrap.


Picture 21 (p.179)

An armed guard beside the destroyed Russian tanks.


Picture 22 (p.181)

We could not have built a better barricade than this.


            Around noon, Béla Király, the Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard, called me on the phone and we had our first argument.  It is possible that this argument occurred because Béla Király did not speak to me as a comrade but as my superior, and this caused me to react. He asked what right I had to stop the removal of the destroyed tanks.  He had given the order to remove them and I had given another order to prevent this.  He said that the Soviet troops would not leave the country unless they could take all their equipment with them, including the destroyed vehicles.  If we want the Russians to leave the country, then we have to help them and not place obstacles in their way.  He ordered me to obey his command and allow the removal of the Russian tanks.

            “That’s an order!” he shouted.

            I answered in like manner:

            “Comrade Brigadier-General!  According to my scouts, more Russian tank units have entered the territory of Hungary and are approaching Budapest.  We have received no information about this from the Ministry of Defense or from the commanders of the National Guard.  Why are you keeping secret such important enemy movements?  What guarantees us that they have not entered Hungary with hostile intentions?  The Russian units have only moved out of Budapest and we know that they have dug themselves in at the borders of Soroksár.  So, instead of the occupying troops leaving us, new ones are coming in, whose intentions are not known to us.  It is obvious that their intentions are not friendly.  We trust the Russians only as much as we can trust an enemy.  This is why I prevented the removal of the destroyed tanks.  In the case of a renewed attack, they can serve us as barricades.  However, if I am mistaken and if the Russian tanks are coming only to ensure the safety of those leaving Hungary, then I promise that, when the last Russian soldier has left Hungary, we shall take the destroyed tanks to the border for them.  If you think it is necessary, you may inform the Russian Commander of this but, in the meantime, all the destroyed Russian vehicles will remain where they are.  I announce this in my full responsibility as Commander-in-Chief of Corvin.  I cannot accept an order which would jeopardize the success of the Revolution.  During the worst days of the Revolution, Comrade Brigadier-General did not give any orders and now I ask you to think out well any orders that you are about to give!”  I shouted this and flung down the phone.


            In the late afternoon, Béla Király called again and, this time, his tone was different.  I also spoke to him with the respect due to the Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard and, in this way, we both regarded the roughness of our earlier conversation to have been smoothed over.  Between us, there developed a friendship which has survived to the present.


            Béla Király acknowledges the military success of the Budapest revolutionaries and, in his book, which appeared in 1981, he writes:


            “The Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard placed a strategic and tactical group at the head of the Revolutionary Armed Forces.  The necessity of a central coordination was obvious at an earlier date.  It has to be stated that, although there was not such coordination at the beginning of the Revolution, the Hungarian Freedom Fighters successfully resisted the AVH and the Soviet aggression.  That success surprised the whole world.  The foreign military experts drew their conclusions based on guesswork and the Stalinists and Soviet officials accepted them and propagated them with pleasure.  The essence of this guesswork was that the Hungarian Revolution was organized and led by an underground command which was earlier financed and trained by “imperialists”.  These conclusions were far from the truth.  The groups of Freedom Fighters operated under their own leaders who were elected democratically.  How was it possible that they were fighting with unheard of success, which seemed to be the result of a coordinated action?  There are two explanations for this, one ideological, the other tactical.


            “The ideological basis for the successful fight of the Freedom Fighters was simply that the majority of the people were united in condemning the Stalinist regime in Hungary, the way it formed its people’s representation and its government.  The Freedom Fighters followed this ideology also.  This was an extraordinarily interesting case in military history, for a successful revolutionary army was led not by the commander-in-chief of a military troop but by an ideal.


            “The tactical basis of the success of the Freedom Fighters is also understandable.  The revolutionary groups used the Soviet weapons skillfully and used the Soviet partisan war tactics as a model.  They made sudden attacks on their enemy and, with combined fire, caused them many losses and then disappeared.  Often, they were divided into small groups and, if necessary, they scattered, with an agreement to meet again at a specified place or join with other groups and continue the fight.  If necessary, they hid their weapons and acted as if they were peaceful citizens so that later on they could form a new group and continue the fight.  This extraordinary flexibility made the Freedom Fighters invincible during the first part of the Revolution.” (86)


            In truth, that was in brief the essence of the Hungarian Revolution and Béla Király expresses it correctly.  However, I still have something to add:

1.       The “foreign military experts” had good reason for their guesswork, because what happened in Hungary, at that time, really was amazing.  It was exactly because of this that the “Stalinists and Soviet powers” used this disturbance and started to spread among the agents abroad the story of the underground leadership and financial support from imperialist agents.  This was the reason that Maléter was planted among them as a military expert and the victory of the Revolution was attributed to him.  This was more believable than the truth that the “glorious, invincible Red Army” was defeated by revolutionaries with no training.  This helped rationalize its failure.  The shame of being defeated by children in Budapest was unbearable to them.

2.            Let us quote further from Béla Király:  “This extraordinary flexibility made the Freedom Fighters invincible during the first part of the Revolution.”  I fully agree with Béla Király.  To a large extent, the fact that it did not have a trained leadership contributed to the success of the Revolution.  Everyone who had a weapon in his hand was a commander.  He was in command of himself!  He did what the victory of the Revolution and the momentary situation demanded of him, without an order from a commander.  These Freedom Fighters did not need orders to die for their country.  If they had been ordered to do it, I am sure that they would not have done so.  The proof of this is that, after the success of the Revolution, after the organization of a trained military leadership, a strategic and tactical operational group, the central coordination, completely fell apart within hours of the beginning of the Freedom Fight of November 4.  The revolutionaries fell into the same situation that they experienced during the Revolution, between October 23 and 28, when they defeated the Red Army stationed in Hungary and humiliated them.  After November 4, the new Soviet Army was estimated at two hundred thousand men and three thousand tanks which, after the Revolution, joined the remaining Soviet troops and launched an attack on the successful revolutionaries.  In spite of this, we in Corvin held out until late in the evening of November 9.  We only gave up Corvin Circle then because we learned that, on November 10, at dawn, they were going to attack us from the borders of Pestlörinc and Kispest, an attack against which we had no way to defend ourselves.  However, we did not lay down our arms.  The Corvinists divided into three groups and continued to fight in different parts of Budapest until November 15.


            In the afternoon of October 31, we had gone back to Köztársaság Square to look for the entrance to the underground prison, which was not known either to the AVH at the Party Headquarters or to those AVH men who had been brought to Corvin to give us this information.  They did not deny the existence of this prison, but its entrance was known to only fifteen or twenty people in the whole country.  Who these people were, it was impossible to discover.  When I was working at the City Hall at Cegled, as Director of Animal Husbandry at the Great Stalin Cooperative, I became acquainted with the parents of the secretary of the DISz  (Working Youths’ Union) of Szob County and I knew that their eldest son was a colonel in the AVH.  The secretary of the DISz was a good friend of mine in 1953.  At that time we held all-night discussions.  I attacked and he defended the regime.  However, it never came into his mind to report me.  It was as if he religiously believed in Communism but, during our long discussions, I succeeded in persuading him that he was a Hungarian first and then a Communist.  I thought that we would find Colonel Radosza of the AVH in Cegled, so I sent two of my comrades with a car to look for him.  I told them of my connections with him and asked them to treat him as my friend.  They found him in the prison at Cegled, where he had placed himself for protection until order was restored and he could clear himself before a judge.  Early in the morning of October 31, they came back with him but, unfortunately, he could not shed any light on the secret of the underground prison.


            In the afternoon, about fifteen of us went to look around.  When we arrived at Köztársaság Square, I sent a few revolutionaries into the building of the Party Headquarters, to look around and report what they found there.  The Baross Park revolutionary group, which had joined the Corvinists a few days earlier, provided the guards.  They informed me of the situation.  They told me that they had searched in vain, and that they had not found the entrance.  However, they knew that there were people under the ground because, at night when everything was silent, they could hear knocking and voices from below.


            We looked for the cellar.  The guards showed me the entrance and I went down with a few revolutionaries to examine the elevator shaft.  We could not see much and, in the cellar, water came up to our knees.  We made a long path out of books but, because of the water, we could not examine either the elevator shaft or the floor of the cellar.  When we came up from the cellar, my brother Ernő said that the flower-bed in the yard looked very suspicious to him.  It was freshly dug and if he stepped onto it, he sank almost to his ankles.  This might be the entrance which the AVH covered with earth when they saw that they were losing their headquarters.


            We found some shovels and started to dig.  Everyone was excited because we really thought that we had found the entrance to the underground prison.  The news spread like wildfire and a crowd started to form around the flower-bed.  The engineer officers, who had previously installed radio receivers in different parts of Köztársaság Square, came in too.  The digging did not last very long.  Scarcely a meter deep, we found corpses which we laid beside the flower-bed, about fifteen of them, all young boys with their hands tied behind their backs and all shot at the base of the skull.  I was so shocked that I began to sob.  This time, I was not alone because tears came to everyone’s eyes.   An engineer and my brother Ernő took me between them and led me out to the square where they tried to distract my attention by putting headphones on my ears.  I heard voices on the radio but I could not understand what they were saying.  At this time, they had started digging at another point in the square.  They continued after dark, with floodlights, digging with machines.  In vain, I asked to go back  to the Party Headquarters.  Ernő and a few comrades would not let me go.  They bundled me into a car and we went back to Corvin.  On the way, we talked about these mass murderers and how they deserved to be hanged.  Later, however, János Kádár made heroes of them and, after 1956, they were able to continue their executioner’s work.


            Let us see who these young boys were, whom we dug out of the mass grave.  Ervin Hollos explains this in his book: Köztársaság Square 1956, which was published in 1974 by Kossuth Publishers:


            “On the morning of the 24th., a few armed groups appeared.  These, however, did not try to attack.  In the morning, another three armed revolutionaries approached the Party Headquarters.  They were taken into custody and their weapons were taken from them, an air-gun and a war-gun . . .


            “The first, more serious attempt took place in the evening.  From a second story window, somebody noticed six to eight civilians darting from tree to tree approaching the AVH truck which was parked in front of the cinema.  They notified György Várkonyi who, along with three AVH men, scanned the area from this window.  He told them to fire only on his orders.  He told the few soldiers standing at the gate to be ready at his signal to capture the attackers. It happened so:  when they reached the trucks and got into them, they started the engines and the lights of the trucks came on.  On Várkonyi’s command, one of the AVH men gave a short round of fire from a submachine-gun.  That was the signal.  The AVH men standing in the gate, ran out and captured some of the attackers and led them into the Party Headquarters.” (87)


            Several people have written in their memoirs about the action which took place on the evening of October 24:

            “After a certain time, we noticed that they wanted to steal the trucks.  Because our warning was ignored, one man with a machine-gun made a round of fire into the driver’s cabin and a man remained in there seriously injured.  According to an eye-witness, the man who fired was an AVH man named Elekes, who was the driver of one of the trucks and who, at that time, was working at the Party Headquarters.” (88)

            “Late in the evening of October 25, the AVH men who had been called to Budapest from Szombathely, arrested a group of revolutionaries in the square.  They detained some of them and took them into the Party Headquarters.” (89)


            There is no question that we were their enemies because we revolted against the regime, so their arrests were lawful but it did not give them the right to murder and especially not to massacre the youths.


            “During the day of the 29th., several people noticed that young boys, about fifteen or sixteen years old, appeared on the square and soon disappeared.” (90)


            So these executioners took fifteen and sixteen year-old boys, tied their hands behind their backs and shot them in the back of the head.  On the 29th., however, the Revolution had already been pronounced successful.  The Government dissolved the AVH and the fighting around Budapest came to an end.  Instead of accepting the cease-fire and the dissolution of the AVH, those who were in the Party Headquarters continued to fight, in spite of the decision of the Government and the Central Leadership.  Not only the Hungarian press but also many of the western writers defend Imre Mező, making excuses for him and claiming that he was an honorable Hungarian.  It is possible he was.  However, as Secretary of the Budapest Communist Party, he is responsible for what happened at the Party Headquarters, especially if he knew about the killings and sanctioned them.  In this case, he deserved his fate.  The following quotation proves this:


            “On the afternoon of the 29th., a telephone call came, informing us at the Party Headquarters, that a truck filled with armed youths had come from Mosonmagyaróvár and Györ to Baross Park.  It was already getting dark but, from a second floor window, Mező, Várkonyi and others could see everything very well.  Várkonyi again led the resistance.  Right away, he informed the guards at the gate and ordered them, at a given signal, to leap into action.  When the group had almost reached the corner of Köztársaság Square, Várkonyi threw a hand-grenade behind them.  The majority of the group ran away but the reinforced guards were able to catch some of them.  An interrogation confirmed the news that they were preparing to attack the Party Headquarters.” (91)


            In the Party Headquarters, besides the AVH Second-Lieutenants György Várkonyi and Károly Tompa, there were more high-ranking officers, the majority of whom were Imre Mező’s friends or long-time acquaintances.  It is possible that the defense of the Party Headquarters was conducted under the command of György Várkonyi, although this is questionable, knowing Army regulations.  It is obvious that the command always goes to the officer with the highest rank, who in this case supposedly was not a member of the AVH.  Colonels Asztalos, Papp, Tóth and Szabó all surrounded Imre Mező and among these, only Tóth survived.  Is it possible that nobody asked him what took place at the Party Headquarters before October 30?  Or, if they asked about it, why do the Marxist and western historians keep silent about it?


            Perhaps because the events which took place on Köztársaság Square were provoked by the AVH,  just as those which took place on October 25, in front of the Parliament building.


            “The demonstrators numbered fifteen to twenty thousand.  One column of them went in front of the Parliament building and that is where the provocation took place.” (92)


            János Molnár mentions and even acknowledges that there was a provocation.  The more

than two hundred dead and almost one thousand injured cannot be disposed of in these two sentences.  Ervin Hollos explains why the continuous provocations were necessary, to which the revolutionaries responded in such a humane way.  It is not true that everybody who was in the Party Headquarters was executed.  The truth is that the nine AVH men who were stood against the wall and “executed” by the revolutionaries, after the Party Headquarters was taken, were Sándor Vörös, Sándor Köncöl, István Kálmán, István Holicza, József Csalai, Zoltán Kucsera, József K. Fárkas, Lajos Berta Somogyi and László Elek (93)  Six of these men were witnesses in court cases after the Revolution.  These were Vörös,  Köncöl, Holicza, Csalai, K. Fárkas, and B. Somogyi, so only three actually died, Kálmán, Kucsera and Elek. (94)  The propagandists of the Kádár regime and the agents who were placed in the West or who came on their own, fabricated pictures which were falsely used for discrimination.


            When Ervin Hollos writes of the necessity of the chain of provocations, he does a perfect character study of two representatives of the Communist leadership:


            “In the evening of the 29th., János Kádár went to look for Imre Mező at Köztársaság Square.  They discussed shortly what had to be done.  That was their last meeting.  After the departure of János Kádár, Imre Mező went among his colleagues.  Everyone was excitedly waiting to hear what news János Kádár had brought.  Imre Mező said quietly, ‘The Central Committee cannot do anything.  They just meet but we cannot expect anything from them.  We are on our own.  We at least know what we want to do.  There are no alternatives.’  He continued that Comrade Kádár had informed him that he would stand firmly  against the counter-revolution.  That is why the Budapest Party should collect all the information about atrocities which they could use as a proof.  They also agreed that all factories should have meetings and talk about this subject.” (95)


            All this took place on the evening of the 29th., after the Government declaration and the decision of the Central Committee.  So János Kádár became the traitor of the Revolution, not after the events of Köztársaság Square but well before that.  The Party Committee had to document the reactions to the provocations.  Their own mass murders were obviously accepted by the demands of the Communist ethics and Socialist humanitarianism.







            In the early morning hours, a very interesting incident took place in the office of the Commander, an incident  which was characteristic of the Revolution.  There were many youngsters among us whom we tried in vain to send home during the battles but they did not want to leave their comrades and they did amazingly well during the heaviest fighting.  They quickly learned how to handle the guns and they used them very effectively.  Very often, these twelve and thirteen year-old children gave us the strength of mind to continue the fight.  Their bravery and self-sacrifice served as an example to many of us.  After the Revolution, a picture of two of these youths appeared in the world press.  Their names are not important.  They were the youths of Budapest, Corvinists which, not only for them but also for us, was an honor.


            Zsuzsa was giving me the last of the National Guard identification cards to sign when Jancsi, one of these youngsters, who had joined us around October 26, suddenly burst into the office.  He was one of those who would not be chased away; he just turned around and came back again and again and finally took his place at one of the windows overlooking Kör Avenue.  There were about ten of them, about the same age, who vied with each other in the heaviest fighting.  They were heroes!  Now, however, Jancsi was frightened. 


            “Mustache!” he shouted.  “My mother is coming.  Don’t let her take me home.  I too am a National Guard.  I have the identification card.  I am in the first platoon of the second company.  I can stay here, can’t I?” he pleaded.


            Jancsi could not continue because already, in the corridor, shouting could be heard between his mother and the guard stationed there.  At this Jancsi hid under the bed.


            “Don’t point that gun at me or I will hit you so hard that one of your eyes will knock out the other.  Where is your commander?  I want to speak to him.”  Jancsi’s mother shouted angrily, pushed everyone out of her way and came into the office.

            “Are you the commander?”  she asked.

            “Yes,” I answered.

            “Where is my son?” she asked.

            “Madam,” I answered.  “First of all, please sit down.  Look, there are so many children here that I could not possibly know which one is your son.  Are you sure that he is here?”

            “Five minutes ago, I saw him in front of the cinema but he saw me too and the little monkey disappeared.  I locked him in the bedroom but he ran away from home.  He wanted to come here and that is why I locked him in.  It is now five days and he has not come home to eat or to sleep.  He is blond, thirteen years old and his name is János Varga.  He must be here!”


            I was in trouble.  I did not want to lie but I did not want to betray Jancsi to his mother who appeared to be an honest working woman.  In my confusion, I turned to Zsuzsa an I asked her to look on the list of names to see if she could find a boy of that age and with that name among the revolutionaries.  The situation suddenly changed when a sixteen year-old revolutionary brought me a cup of coffee from the workers’ hostel where the slightly injured were taken.  He had a bandage on his head, through which the blood was soaking.  When the woman saw our wounded young comrade, she started to cry.  “I could be mistaken and the one I saw in front of the cinema was not my son, Jancsi.  Perhaps he, too, is wounded or perhaps even dead.  Maybe I shall never see my little Jancsi again.  Now I really don’t know where to look for him,” she said sadly. “If he’s not here, I shall look through all the hospitals.  Dear God, let me find him there and not in a cemetery!”


            The woman was now sobbing and no longer “the lioness defending her cub” who had entered the office.  Jancsi came out from under the bed, crying, “Mother, I am here and I’m not even wounded.  There’s nothing wrong with me!  I can stay here can’t I?  Promise me that you won’t take me home.  I am a National Guard too.  Here is my identification card!”


            Jancsi did not have time to take out his identification card, for his mother kissed him and hugged him so strongly that he was hardly able to speak and tell her all he wanted to tell.  The tears of sadness changed in a moment to tears of joy and ran down the faces of both mother and son.


            “What do you mean, stay here?  You’ll get it when I get you home.  And what you’ll get from your father, you’ll remember for the rest of your life.  And you deserve it after all the pain we have gone through because of you.  You are coming with me and I will not even let go of your hand.  Your father will tie you up and we will watch over you until this situation is over.”


            This scolding was the protective mother showing her love.  After every sentence, the mother, still crying, planted two kisses on the face of her son.  After she had quieted down somewhat, I asked her to listen to me because I wanted to tell her something important.


            “Madam!” I said.  “Believe me, your son is a hero, just as are many hundreds of children who have taken up arms to fight for the freedom of our country.  It is thanks to these young people that the Russians are moving out of Budapest and will be leaving Hungary in a short while.  These children were there when their country needed them.  They took their places and fought for the results which can be seen everywhere now.  Believe me, I have a mother too and all the others do too, and all these mothers are worrying and crying for their sons just as you did.  It is true that we can’t tell these mothers that they should not cry because they do have a reason to cry.  Yet I still have to ask what would have become of our suffering nation if every mother, who is just as worried as you are, had come here and taken her boy home.  During the battles, we tried many times to chase Jancsi away and many other children of the same age too, but they did not want to go away because they felt that their place was here.  The nation can thank these children for the victory of the Revolution, because the love for our nation, which we have inside us, was planted in us by our mothers.  If you want to, take your son home.  I ask you to be very proud of your thirteen year-old son who is a National Guard, and who earned his title.”


            The woman stood up and said in a very determined voice, and no longer crying:

            “Sir, you are still a young man.  Do you know what a responsibility you have?  The lives of these children are in your hands.  For the love of God, I ask you to take care of them.  What you have done in the last few days is the world’s seventh wonder.  The eighth wonder will be if you can hold onto the victory, which neither my husband nor I believe you can do.  Yet I will leave my son here.  Nobody is more proud of him than I am.  I just ask you to take good care of these children because they are our greatest treasure.  Please excuse my earlier behavior.”  She continued, “I was not acting like a Hungarian woman but as a mother.”


            I told Jancsi to accompany his mother home and, if she allowed him, to come back before dark.  Zsuzsa made him a pass and they left.


Picture 23 (p. 193)

Jancsi, the thirteen year-old National Guard, who handled his gun well.



            I was expecting a delegation at four o’clock, with whom I had to discuss the threatening military situation.  The news of the movement of the Russian Army was cause for worry.  The information that the Russian tank units were surrounding the airports and the fact that they had occupied the military airport indicated that they were preparing for another attack.  I felt that we could not wait, with folded hands, for the events to unfold, but that we should prepare for the next possible attack.  The Government and the Defense Ministry did not move in this direction and I can only attribute this to the betrayal of the Revolution.  My information was based on the reports of the scouts of the Corvinist group and it gave us every reason to be uneasy.  However, if I had turned to the “upper leadership of the Revolution” for information, I would have received just evasive answers and obvious lies.  It is true that this would not have surprised me because the “upper leadership of the Revolution” had fallen into the hands of men who should have been imprisoned for treason.  Knowing this, we trusted them only so far.  The decision, however, was in their hands, which was why I had asked for this meeting which I hoped would solve the situation and I would be able to force them to make a decision.  At four o’clock, the delegation arrived. 


            The members of this group were Pál Maléter, now Brigadier General, Brigadiers-general István Kovács, Gyula Uszta, Gyula Váradi and Horváth and Colonels András Márton and Miklós Szűcs.


            We sat down and the meeting began.  It lasted more than an hour and a half.  I told them the reason for my uneasiness and I asked them to inform us, in as much detail as possible, of the present military situation, the occupation of the airports and the purpose of the enormous armed force surrounding Budapest.

            Maléter announced that he was taking part in this meeting as Minister of Defense and as a Brigadier-General.  (Maléter was appointed Minister of Defense to replace Defense Minister Károly Janza and he continued to declare that he was Communist.) (96)  He said that the members of Parliament were informed that Marshall Zsukov and his tank units were occupying all the airports, had stopped all civilian air-traffic (which was necessary for aid coming in from the West) and had surrounded the capital with Soviet soldiers.  At that hour, waiting for the command to attack, the most modern Soviet tanks were lined up end to end from Szolnok to Cegled.  (Maléter also knew about the strength of the Soviet tanks!  To reassure his officers from Kilián, who were concerned about the Russian movement, this was his answer:  “The Soviet Union already has such great military power in Hungary, that they have more than enough strength to attack us if they choose to do so.  The movement of the Soviet tanks is to show the West how much strength they have, probably as a result of the Suez crisis.  It is most important that we do not interrupt the cease-fire.  Such an action could bring unforeseeable results.”) (97)

            According to Gosztonyi, that was the stand of the Minister of Defense during this meeting.  I asked, if the demonstration of Soviet power was for the benefit of the West, then why did they occupy the airports and surround the capital?  I said that, according to some of the “leaders of the Revolution”, the new Russian units were coming in to secure a safe passage for those Soviet troops which were leaving the country.  Their behavior and their movements indicated an intention to attack, yet no decision had been made for us to prepare to defend ourselves against such an attack.  Why not?  I asked Maléter, as Minister of Defense, to order the Hungarian Army to call all Hungarian soldiers to Budapest, the infantry with their guns, the artillerymen with their cannons and the tank units with their tanks.  We had to be ready to defend Budapest, in case the Russians attacked because, if Budapest remained free, the whole country would remain free.  If the Russians occupied Budapest, everything was lost.  Therefore, the defense of Budapest was our first and most important duty.  We had no intention to attack but somebody would have to answer if we neglected our defense.  It would still not be too late if the order went out that night, if it came from the Minister of Defense.  Because of the position of the Russian units, it was probably not possible for a big Hungarian movement.  However, by moving single units, it would be possible to bring into the capital enough military force to repel a possible Russian attack.

            A big argument followed and the opinions were divided.  Maléter said that the Russians would take such a command as a provocation, and that had to be avoided by all means.  The following day, the negotiations for the removal of the Russian Army would begin and he did not wish to go to this meeting with the knowledge of such a provocation.

            I asked him if he did not regard the movements of the Russian Army as a provocation?  Or if, in his opinion, our whole nation may be provoked and we not be allowed to do anything about it?  If the huge armed force of the Russian Army, with tanks and infantry, had no intention to attack, then they should not regard the order of the Defense Minister as a provocation.  However, if they had surrounded the capital and occupied the airports, with the intention to attack, then we did not have to worry about whether the Russians regarded our action as a provocation but rather we had to worry about the timing of their attack.  We, the revolutionaries, won the Revolution against the AVH and the Russian forces which were at that time stationed in Hungary.  However, if that powerful, superior force attacked again, and we remained alone, then Budapest would be taken within hours, or at the most in one or two days.  It was sure that we would resist as long as we could.  If the Hungarian Army and the Police would join in the defense of Budapest then, with combined forces, maybe we could defend the capital, in spite of the superior force.  If not, then we really had to pray that the Russians would not attack.

            Maléter answered that I, as a civilian, did not understand military matters and my information was extremely one-sided.  To calm me, he said that he would put my suggestion to the vote and the military experts would decide on this matter.

            Of the officers and generals who were trained in Moscow, three voted that I was right and four of them sided with Maléter and stated that such an order would be taken by the Russians as a provocation.  They trusted the promise of the Soviet leadership and left the fate of the Revolution in their hands.  The meeting came to an end without accomplishing anything.


            Yet, in his book, which appeared in 1981, Gosztonyi writes: “The Revolution had numerous heroes, among them not a few army officers, the most famous among them the 39 year-old Colonel Pál Maléter who, from October 25 on, fought as leader of the soldiers at the Kilián Barracks.  These buildings were at the intersection of Üllö Avenue and Nagykör Boulevard, an important strategic point which withstood for days, together with the revolutionaries of Corvin Circle, the attacks of the Russian tanks.  On November 1, Maléter became the Deputy Minister of Defense and, one day later, as the successor of Károly Janza, the Minister of Defense.  At the same time, the Presidential Advisory Committee promoted Maléter to Brigadier-General in acknowledgment for his deeds.” (98)


            I would like to know what prompted Gosztonyi to write this lie because he, as a second-lieutenant at Kilián, knows the truth.  I would like to ask him when and where he and Maléter fired on the Russian tanks and infantry between October 24 and October 28.


            The Corvinists had prepared themselves for the possible attack, as far as circumstances allowed.  Already, before this, we had placed at the head of each group, commanders who were seasoned Freedom Fighters, whom we trusted completely.  We knew that these commanders, in the case of an attack, would hold their ground as well as they did during the Revolution.  The tank units had had commanders since October 28.  Peg-leg Jancsi became the commander of the artillery, a second-lieutenant from the signal unit became the commander of the guards.  A medical student, who spoke good Russian, became the commander of the reconnaissance and intelligence group.


            Among the comrades, trust was complete and there was no need to withhold any secrets from each other.  We often gathered together the commanders to hear about their movements and we also informed them of the newest developments.  We prepared them and the fighters for a possible new Russian attack.  We made sure that there were sufficient quantities of arms and ammunition in the armory.  We often held meetings with the commanders of the groups which had joined us.  They told us of the situation within their groups and we gave them information about our situation.  As far as we could, we helped these groups because we were comrades and we knew we could count on them in case of need.  In fact, we knew that in that present situation we could count only on them.


Picture 24 (p.197)

Hard hat and an old man with a bag.  Father and son.


            After the unsuccessful meeting with the Hungarian Army on November 2, I again called the commanders of Corvin and the commanders of the groups which had joined us to a meeting and told them what had taken place.  Many of them wanted to kill Maléter.  I had to be very firm to control them and I calmed my comrades by telling them that this would be one of the charges that Maléter would answer in front of a judge when the time came.


            Béla Király knew very well the situation between the Corvinists and the “heroic defender” of the Kilián Barracks, Pál Maléter.   He even mentioned it in his book:


            “Several of the representatives of the Freedom Fighters objected to holding the meeting at Kilián.  For them, the Barracks did not represent the resistance but, especially in the first bloody days of the Revolution, it was for them a symbol of oppression.  They could not forget that, from Kilián, on the orders of Colonel Maléter, men were shooting at the revolutionaries.  During the cease-fire, a number of coffins were needed to bury those who were killed in the firing from the Kilián Barracks.” (99)


            So, at this meeting, we received from Maléter just what the true Freedom Fighters were expecting from him.  The behavior of the high-ranking officers and generals who supported Maléter can be easily understood.  From among them, only Maléter was executed.  Two of them were imprisoned for a long time and expelled from the People’s Army by the Kádár regime.  One of them was sentenced to a short term of imprisonment.  The other three remained in the new People’s Army as generals because they were loyal to the interests of Moscow and the Russians.  They were never on the side of the revolutionaries.  Among these Russian-trained generals and officers, Maléter ordered a vote, which facilitated the Russians in overcoming Budapest.  What took place in the office of the Commander of Corvin Circle on November 2, was not stupidity or cowardice.  It was pure treason.






            Just as in the earlier days, important events were taking place at Corvin Circle.  Journalists were harassing us but nobody allowed them to come into Corvin.  The guards were informed that we would talk with the media only after the Russians had left Hungary.  As far as was possible, we forbade them from taking pictures.  The reason for all this was that we wanted to prevent the possibility of spies entering Corvin.  We did not want to provide any information to the enemies of the Hungarian freedom and independence.  We did not trust anyone.


            In the course of events, we were forced to change our position to a certain extent.  Szabó, Erdős, Jutka, Doc and almost every member of the group, asked me to tell the newspaper reporters about our situation because this was the only way we could defend ourselves from the underground work of traitors.  It was in vain that we had won the Revolution, if the Government-appointed Revolutionary leaders and the Soviet mercenaries who surrounded them were to betray us.  If that huge military Russian power launched an attack, we could not hope to stop them, because the Hungarian Army was not with us and it looked as if we were again on our own.  It was now an accepted fact  that, because of the leaders, we could not count on the Army.  We had to make this known to the people of the country because, if we did not, we would become accomplices to the treason.


            I accepted their reasoning and, in the early afternoon hours, four newspaper reporters came to the office of the Commander of Corvin Circle, where Doc, Szabó, Jutka, Zsuzsa and I received them.  We told them the facts.  The reporters did not want to believe us.  They knew that Maléter had become the Minister of Defense as a result of his activities during the Revolution, so they felt that our statements were unbelievable.  We, however, proved our statements.  We took them among the Freedom Fighters at the cinema, at the Práter Street School, where the boys told them the truth about the situation.  After this, still shaking their heads in disbelief, they promised that, in the following day’s paper, they would publish the story of the Corvinists.  Unfortunately, this could not be done.  We were too late.


            However, as far as we could, we did everything possible to be ready for the newest Russian attack because, according to the information we had received on the afternoon of November 3, we knew that it was inevitable.  We stationed a tank at the corner of Kisfaludy Street and Üllö Avenue, with a twenty-four hour watch.  We made sure that the cannons were in good firing condition and that they had plenty of ammunition at their disposal.  We allowed out only those revolutionaries who had a serious reason for leaving.  Several days earlier, I had asked my brother Bandi, who was Commander of the Supplies, to obtain food which was easy to store in quantity.  He was to talk to the cook and make sure he had all the food he needed.  We provided all three of our doctors with the supplies that they needed.


            At about six o’clock in the evening, Pál Berkovics, a medical sergeant from Kilián, came over again with a message.  He was looking for me and he found me at the Práter Street School.


            “Comrade Commander-in-Chief,” he addressed me, “Comrade Brigadier-General Maléter would like you to go over to the Kilián Barracks as soon as possible.  It is very important that he speak to you.”


            “Comrade Sergeant,” I answered, “Tell Maléter that the distance from Kilián to here is just the same as from here to Kilián.   If he wants something, he can come over here.”


            However, Maléter did not come.  Until then, I had been to Kilián twice and, on both occasions, I had returned humiliated, deeply hurt and angry.  It is true that the same thing happened when Maléter came over to Corvin for a meeting or negotiations.  Therefore, it did not matter if I went there or he came here.  In this case, I felt that, because of the seriousness of the situation, I had given a hasty answer to the sergeant.  After all, Maléter was the Defense Minister, whether we liked it or not.  Maybe what he wanted to tell us was really important.  Maybe he had changed his opinion since the previous day’s meeting  and had ordered the Army divisions to come to the defense of Budapest.  I was curious to find out what that important matter was, about which he wanted to inform me.


            It was seven o’clock when I went to look for Erdős and Szabó, my two deputies.  I told them what it was all about and, thinking over the situation, I had decided to go over to Kilián.  I told them that if I did not come back by midnight at the latest, they should come and get me because I would have been arrested.


            I crossed Üllö Avenue and knocked on the locked doors of Kilián Barracks.  A sergeant let me in.  I told him who I was and that I was looking for Maléter, who had called me over.  After the sergeant had locked the door behind me, he turned and pointed his submachine-gun at me and shouted, “Hands up!”


            “Comrade Sergeant,” I answered, “I am Mustache, the Commander of Corvin Circle.”  I was unable to continue because the sergeant shouted roughly at me:


            “Shut up!  Forward to the guard-house!” He nudged my back with the barrel of his gun and pushed me into the guard-house, where he made me unbuckle my pistol belt and put it on the table.  He made me stand facing the wall, so close that my nose touched the wall.  After a while, I tried to speak again but the sergeant pushed my head against the wall so roughly that my nose began to bleed.


            “I told you to shut up!  I am not at all interested in your opinion.  Speak only if I ask you to.  Do you understand?”  He shouted roughly.


            I realized I was in trouble and, from the strong blow that I had received, I was dizzy, standing against the wall.  I knew now that I could get nowhere with this sergeant and I felt very humiliated.  I had fallen into a trap and I was trying to think how I could get out of it.


            I had already been in the guard-house for a good half-hour, when I recognized the voice of Captain Lajos Csiba in the corridor.  He was giving orders to a soldier.  Captain Csiba was the Commander of the Kilián Barracks.  We had met several times and I can say that we had developed a friendly relationship.  I liked the straightforward, honest and hard character of this captain with the gold-framed glasses.  As I heard his voice, I had an idea that he could help me and I shouted as loudly as I could:


            “Captain Csiba!  Come to the guard-house!”


            The sergeant jumped at me and I expected another push or a blow on the back of the head.  I bent my head so that I would bump my forehead on the wall, rather than my nose.  However, the guard did not touch me this time.


            Captain Csiba came into the guard-house and when he saw me he asked, “What’s happening here?”


            “That’s just what I would like to find out,” I answered, turning around.  “Maléter asked me to come over because he wanted to talk to me and, now that I have come, I get this reception.  This sergeant arrested me, disarmed me, and made me stand facing the wall, so close that my nose started to bleed.  I am asking for an explanation!”


            “Mustache, don’t be angry,” said Captain Csiba.  “There must be some misunderstanding.  I know that the Comrade Brigadier-General is waiting for you for some very important negotiations.  He asked me to bring you to him as soon as you arrived.”  He turned toward the sergeant.  “Comrade Sergeant, I want an explanation.”


            “I received the command from Comrade Brigadier-General,” answered the sergeant, “that I should disarm everyone who comes into the barracks and keep him in the guard-house.”

            “Does that apply to me also, the Commander of Corvin Circle?” I asked.

            “The order said everyone, without exception,” answered the sergeant.  “I was just carrying out the order.”

            “Comrade Sergeant, you should have your face slapped for the way you treated me.  Ask God not to let us meet again under different circumstances because you will surely get it!”  I told the sergeant.


            I buckled my pistol belt and left the guard-house with Captain Csiba.  As we were going up the stairs to Maléter’s room, Captain Csiba was trying to explain what had happened and asked me to forget that unpleasant incident which was caused by an over-zealous sergeant.  We knocked on Maléter’s door and were allowed to enter the room.


            “Comrade Brigadier-General, I am reporting with Mustache.  May we come in?”


            Maléter came to the door and, with a broad smile on his face, he shook hands with me.  “I am glad that you came over, Mustache,” he said, “because I want to talk to you.  Come and sit down.”


            He led me to a long, narrow army table, covered with a white tablecloth, at which about seven people were seated.  Maléter introduced them because I did not know any of them; two captains, a lieutenant, four different commanders of the Armed Forces and my three bodyguards.  They made a place for me opposite Maléter.  As I sat down, Maléter  courteously offered me tea, coffee, oranges, lemons, bananas, chocolates or cookies.


            Maléter began to speak and I noticed the sarcasm in his words.  He must have found out about the details of what we had discussed with the newspaper reporters.


            “Mustache, I hear you want to kill me.  Here is my pistol,” he said, holding it by the barrel and handing it to me across the table.


            “Pál,” I replied.  “If I wanted to kill you, I would not publicize it.  You deserve to be shot for the things you have done but the court will decide and you will have to answer for your deeds in front of a judge.  Whether you are executed or not depends a great deal on how you act as Minister of Defense.  Is this the important matter that you wanted to talk about?  Is this why you called me over?” I asked.


            “No, Mustache,” answered Maléter.  “I called you over because, at midnight, I am going to Tököl, the headquarters of the Russian Army, where we will continue the negotiations, which were started this morning in the Parliament, for the withdrawal of the Russian Army from Hungary.  As Commander of the National Guard at Corvin, do you have any conditions that you would like to see included in these negotiations?  You see, I did not want to go to these negotiations, without asking for your opinion.  It is true that Imre Nagy asked me to talk to you before I go to Tököl.  He thinks it important that the agreement with the Russian commanders take place with the approval of the Corvinists.”


            “Pál,”  I answered, “it is possible that I don’t know Hungarian history very well but I have not heard of one case in our history, where the Commander-in-Chief of the Army went to the enemy for negotiations.  I am only the Commander of the Corvinists but I never went to any negotiations with the enemy, the Russians or the Hungarian Government.  If the meeting did not take place at Corvin, I sent delegates to conduct the negotiations in our name.  You are not going there as Pál Maléter but as Defense Minister of the Revolution.  By going there, you are endangering the whole Revolution.  Why don’t you send your representatives?  What will happen if they arrest you?  Have you thought about who will take over your position in that case?  Don’t misunderstand me.  I am worried, not for Pál Maléter but for the Defense Minister of the Revolution.  Your merits, as far as the Russians are concerned, are without question.  You never made a decision which would compromise your reputation in any way.  However, if they attack, the Defense Minister of the Revolution will be judged from a different viewpoint.  Did you think of these things when you decided to go there?” I asked.


            Maléter’s answer was serious and short.  The sarcasm was still noticeable in his voice. “Mustache!  I graduated from the partisan school in Russia and I learned a lot from them.  I spoke the Russian language perfectly and had no need of interpreters.  I know the Russians and I know those generals with whom I have to conduct these negotiations.  I trust them completely.  In any case, this morning, we agreed that they would leave the country by January 15.  These negotiations are just to decide on the details.  I am going there at their request.”


            “What happens if you are mistaken?”  I continued.


            “At the worst, they will do what you want to do; they will shoot me,” answered Maléter.


            That was the end of our conversation and the last time that I saw Maléter.  Captain Csiba accompanied me to the gate and remarked that Maléter’s trusting attitude toward the Russians was rather extreme.  It was past ten o’clock when I told my comrades what had happened.


            Maléter and the delegates who accompanied him must have left for Tököl around ten-thirty and the Soviet Army became “glorious” for arresting the delegation.


            When I had finished speaking, my brother, Bandi, who was standing behind me, said: “Gergely! We have told Mother many times that you are the Commander-in-Chief of Corvin but she still doesn’t believe it.  She is convinced that you have died and that we are trying to reassure her by telling her that you are the Commander-in-Chief.  Come quietly or I shall have to hold a gun to your back.  Get in the car and let’s go home, if only for enough time for our mother to see that you are alive and to embrace you.  Afterwards, you can come back.  Come on, lets go!”


            It looked as if Bandi had already spoken to my comrades about this because they all encouraged me to go home.  I asked Erdős and Szabó to check the guards and I told them that I would come back as soon as I could.  We went to Erzsébet, where my mother had moved with my younger sister Marika, a few days earlier, because they did not wish to remain alone at home in Soroksár. At Erzsébet, with my sister-in-law and the children, it was easier to bear the worry.


            I can’t express my mother’s joy when she saw me.  She cried and laughed at the same time.  It had been an long time since I had received so many kisses.  I sat at the kitchen table and Mother started to make pancakes for me because she knew they were my favorite dish.  After so many sleepless nights, I fell asleep, sitting there.  My mother woke me:


            “My son, the pancakes are ready.  Eat and then lie down.  Rest up before you return to Corvin.”


            “I won’t lie down, Mother,” I objected.  “Thank you for waking me.  I shall eat the pancakes and return to Corvin because we still have much to do.  Now I won’t even sit down, so that I won’t fall asleep again.”


            The chauffeur and I ate the pancakes together because Bandi was already snoring in one of the beds and I did not want to wake him.  When we had finished eating, the chauffeur and I returned to Corvin Circle.


            Accompanied by Erdős and Szabó, I inspected the guards and they told us what had happened during the day.  We looked into the cinema and the Práter Street School, where the fighters were sleeping on the straw-covered floor, covered with blankets.  It was well after one o’clock when we went up to the office and I lay down.  I asked Zsuzsa to let me sleep no later than seven o’clock.







            I have every reason to call the day of November 4 the most terrifying day of my life.  The Corvinists and the whole populace of Budapest woke up to a sad, bloody Sunday.  In that one day, we suffered more losses than in the entire Revolution.  This was not the same Revolution which was successful on October 28.  The Russian attack which began on November 4 at dawn, started a war between two nations, on the one side, nine and a half million Hungarians and, on the other side, more than two hundred million Russians, with no declaration of war.  Two hundred thousand Russian soldiers attacked the sleeping capital and every Communist who has a minimum of honor should feel the greatest shame for this.


            In spite of the fact that the Soviet Union won a military victory in Hungary in 1956, with the world’s strongest military equipment, which even America respected, at that time, it suffered a moral defeat from the Hungarian Freedom Fighters.  David again morally struck down Goliath.


            The battle, which began at dawn in Budapest on November 4, was the Freedom Fight of a small nation, abandoned and betrayed by western politicians, a betrayal to which the American Government, with a well-timed telegram, contributed.  History, however, does not forget.  I believe that every nation will reap the fruit of its actions.  I also believe that those nations that have disappeared, in the course of history, from the map of the world, disappeared not because of their poverty but rather because of their cowardice.  My fervent belief, and I know it to be true, is that, as long as the Freedom Fighters of the Hungarian nation retain that brave, self-sacrificing spirit which has ruled them for a thousand years, it is only a matter of time before the nation will again be free.


            It was not yet five o’clock on the morning of November 4, when the boys woke me:  “Mustache, the Russians are here!”  but they had to shout loud and long before I came to myself.  When I understood the situation, we ran to the cinema, where my two deputies were already giving orders.  The revolutionaries took up their fighting positions and, because the fight had not yet reached this spot, I had time to go up into some of the buildings and check on my comrades.  By then, the firing of the cannons could be heard coming closer and closer.


            It was already getting light when one of the revolutionaries came running, out of breath, to report that there was big trouble in Kisfaludy Street.  Peg-leg Jancsi and the captain of the Reconnaissance group were waiting in front of the cinema and they asked that I go there as fast as I could.  I ran to the cinema, where Peg-leg Jancsi and the captain of the Reconnaissance, whose name was János Haász, called me over and told me what was happening.  At the corner of Kisfaludy Street and Üllö Avenue, a Russian tank had stopped beside our tank and kept Kisfaludy Street under fire.  At the slightest movement, they used not only their machine-gun but also their cannon and, by so doing, they cut us off completely from the Práter Street School, preventing our comrades from crossing.


            “What is wrong with our tank?  Why did it not open fire on the Russian tank before it took up its position?”  I asked.


            “Around two o’clock, Iván-Kovács gave the command to the men in the tank to go to the Práter Street School to sleep.  Therefore, there were no men in our tank when the Russian tank approached,” answered Peg-leg Jancsi.


            “What are our losses so far?”


            “Many!” answered the captain of the Reconnaissance.  “We have already about fifteen dead on Kisfaludy Street.  They are killing everyone who tries to cross from the school to here.  We have to do something quickly!”


            I told Peg-leg Jancsi to go under cover of the wall to the door across from the exit of the school and shout to our comrades to remain in their places.  Nobody was to step out of the door until they received a command from me.


            “We shall find Ivan-Kovács later, if he hasn’t got away,” I said.  “Come, János, let us see how we can destroy the Russian tank.”


            Unfortunately, we searched in vain for a way to get to the Russian tank, but we could not get close enough to reach it with a Molotov cocktail.  It kept Kisfaludy Street under fire with its cannon and one of its machine-guns.  The other machine-gun covered Üllö Avenue.  Something had to be done because our replacements were all at the Práter Street School, cut off by this tank and could not get across.  The infantry attacks were getting stronger and, although our comrades were holding them back on Kör Avenue, there was a danger that they would break through, which I was afraid was very likely.  I was standing close to the wall near the gasoline tanks with János, when Peg-leg Jancsi came to us from the other side of the cinema.  He stood to attention in front of me, saluted and said:


            “Comrade Commander-in-Chief, I ask permission to use the new 55 millimeter cannon.  I believe that I can destroy the Russian tank with it.”

            “What do you intend to do, Jancsi?”  I asked.

            “I need the help of two men.  On the other side, where the cannon is standing right now, we shall prepare it and wait for the tank’s 76-cannon to fire.  We shall turn it suddenly and, before the tank can reload, our gun will fire.”

            “All right, Jancsi.  Try it but take care.  Don’t let the tank beat you to it.  There is no other solution.”


            Jancsi went off and János and I watched him through the fence which surrounded the garden around the cinema.  The two revolutionaries were turning the wheels of the cannon.  Jancsi lifted the foot of the cannon and wound around his right hand the rope which was fastened to the trigger.  They waited.


            The cannon of the Russian tank fired.  “Now!” shouted Jancsi, and the little tank was turned into position.  However, before Jancsi could pull the trigger, the Russian tank fired again.  It hit the little cannon and all three men fell to the ground.


            How I jumped over the almost three-meter high fence, I can’t remember.  On the other side of the garden was a gate and I ran through it.  The newly dug graves, through which I ran, still remain vividly in my mind.  I grabbed Jancsi by the feet and pulled him out of the line of fire.  Then more people came to help.  We took Jancsi and the other survivor to the First-Aid Station, where Jutka worked on Jancsi and Doc saw to the other man.


            A fragment had lodged in Jancsi’s right leg, the good one and had completely destroyed his Achilles tendon.  Another fragment had hit his right eye, from which the blood was spurting.  Jutka applied pressure to it and said that he would need an operation and, if we did not take him to the hospital at once, he would bleed to death.  Here, in Corvin, they could not do anything to help him.


            On Kör Avenue and Üllö Avenue, the fighting was so intense that it was impossible to venture out onto these streets.  The Russians had brought their infantry against us.  In the back, we could not go out onto Kisfaludy Street or Práter Street because of the Russian tank.  Even the ambulances could not go out in such a raging battle.  However, we had to take Jancsi to the hospital.  There were many who were willing to risk their own lives for Jancsi and attempt to go along Kör Avenue but I would not allow them, because it was impossible to get through the crossfire.  Our losses, at that time, were more than forty and it was not even noon.  I did not wish to augment that number with a suicide mission.  We lay Jancsi down in the entrance of house number 4 and, since there was nothing to put under his head, I sat down and put his head onto my lap.  I cried hopelessly, while Jancsi consoled me.


            “Mustache, I know that I am dying but, believe me, I don’t care.  The Russians paid a high price for me.  I feel sorry for my wife and my three children.  Don’t give up Corvin, Mustache.  Some help has to come.  Do everything you can for the nation.  Hold out . . .”


            Peg-leg Jancsi, the greatest hero, not only of Corvin but also of the whole Revolution, died in my lap, around noon on November 4, 1956.


Picture 26 (p.213)

Peg-leg Jancsi, one of the heroes of the 1956 Revolution and Freedom Fight.  He was the Commander of the Artillery at Corvin Circle.



            The White Book,  the official propaganda mouthpiece of János Kádár, writes the following perfidious lies about him:


            “Peg-leg Jankó:  At the negotiations for a cease-fire, which took place on October 29, at Corvin Circle, a revolutionary leader with a wooden leg was present.  In the underworld, he is known as ‘Peg-leg Jankó’, his true name being János Mesz, a well-known criminal.  János Mesz was convicted sixteen times for the following crimes: robbery, armed attack against government officials, loitering, scandalous drunkenness, burglary, etc.


            “Mesz was one of the leaders of the revolutionaries at Corvin Circle.  With a gang of 27, his headquarters were at the Práter Street School.  Under his command, they handled four cannons. . . .


            “On October 30, the day following the ‘cease-fire negotiations’, they conducted an attack against the Party Headquarters at Köztársaság Square, which has been photographed and filmed.  One of the films of the attack shows Peg-leg Jankó in action.  Because that attack was prepared on October 29, these ‘cease-fire negotiations’ were obviously a farce, with the goal of camouflaging further armed attacks of the revolutionaries and ensuring the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary. . .


            “Peg-leg Jankó and his gang were under the command of Maléter who, it is well-known, established his headquarters at the Kilián Barracks.  After October 31, when the Corvinists were organized by Maléter into the National Guard, Peg-leg Jankó was given the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.  He systematically gathered common criminals into the ranks of the revolutionaries. . .


            “Even after November 4, he did not lay down his arms.  He took part in the robbery of the Verseny Department Store on Rákoczi Boulevard, during which he died.” (100)


            There is no need to comment on this text because it speaks for itself.  The propagandists of the advisory board of János Kádár cannot sink lower than this.  They did not even sign their names to the articles they wrote in the many volumes of the White Book because they knew, when they wrote these books, that they were distorting the truth.  Yet, for two reasons, I cannot leave this text without a comment .  One reason is the memory of Peg-leg Jancsi whom I feel, as his former commander, it is my duty to defend, because he really gave his life for his country.  The other reason is that I am trying to counteract the enormous amount of brainwashing which is conducted in the present regime in Hungary.[27]  I am thinking primarily of historians and those who wrote books about the Revolution.


            Firstly, there never were “cease-fire negotiations” on the part of Corvin Circle, either in Corvin Circle or anywhere else.  When the first negotiations began between the Government and the Russians, we knew that the Revolution was already victorious.  Therefore the negotiations were not to lay down arms but to organize further, as I have already mentioned.


            Secondly, “the ‘cease-fire negotiations’ were obviously a farce, with the goal of camouflaging further armed attacks by the revolutionaries and ensuring the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary . . .”  We did not need to camouflage our preparations for further attacks because we did that openly, with the knowledge and acknowledgment of the Government of Imre Nagy, when we formed the National Guard.  The withdrawal of the Russian troops was not accomplished by negotiations to lay down our arms because, in that case, they never would have moved out.  It is an indisputable fact that the Russians are ashamed to admit that the revolutionaries of Budapest, without any military leadership, almost forced them to their knees.  It was only in this way that we forced them to withdraw.  Perhaps the propagandists did not know this.


            Thirdly, Peg-leg Jancsi was never under the command of Maléter.  He was rather one of those who wanted to kill Maléter.  Maléter had nothing to do with the organization of the National Guard, which was in the hands of Béla Király, Sándor Kopácsi and the representatives of the Freedom Fighters.  I know nothing of the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel being accorded to Peg-leg Jancsi.  This never took place.  Maléter, as Deputy Defense Minister, never had the right to give promotions to high-ranking officers.  He must have known that because he was a well-trained soldier.  It looks as if the propagandists do not know about the rules of ethics or military rules.


            Fourthly, unfortunately, on November 4, Peg-leg Jancsi lay down his gun forever.  The sixteen convictions attributed to him were probably as much a lie as his taking part in the robbery of the Verseny Department Store on Rákoczi Boulevard.


            The propagandists of the Cabinet of the Hungarian People’s Republic are either so brainwashed that they believe the lies which appear in the White Book or they regard their readers as being  so gullible as to believe these lies.  Or else they know the truth about the Freedom Fighters but it is not acceptable to them because of their propaganda.  They do not dare to write the truth.  They are forced to write something else.  Maybe we will never find out how many people, on the basis of such falsifications, received the death sentence or long-term imprisonment from the “working peasant government” of János Kádár.


            Scarcely a few minutes after the death of Peg-leg Jancsi, an enormous shout again shook the windows of Corvin Circle.  “The Russian tank is burning.  We have destroyed the tank!”  shouted the revolutionaries.  I asked in vain who had thrown the Molotov cocktail at the tank but nobody knew.  The Freedom Fighters were able to cross over to Corvin Circle from the school and join their comrades who were holding back the infantry attack on Kör Avenue.  The renewed strength and the good mood which followed the destruction of the Russian tank enabled the battle to quiet down at about two o’clock.  The whole district was full of smoke, burned out Russian tanks and corpses.  At about four o’clock, silence again reigned in Corvin; only a shot in the distance could be heard from time to time.  The feeling of happiness which came over us was indescribable.  We had been able to repel the first huge Russian attack.  Only then I learned that the reconnaissance captain, after breaking through the fire-walls and crossing from attic to attic, had reached the Russian tank and destroyed it.  With this action, he really contributed a great deal to the success of the day and earned the greatest acknowledgment of the Corvinists.


            It was already getting dark when I called the company commanders and platoon leaders to a short meeting.  One by one, they reported what had happened in their units and the losses they had received.  The officers who had been assigned to aid the commanders had all disappeared except for three.  We also looked in vain for my “advisor”, Ödön Dienes, but we never found him.  Nobody had seen Iván-Kovács since dawn.  During the day, including those who died at the First Aid Station, we had had fifty-two dead and twenty-three seriously injured, who were sent to the hospital.  We were well-equipped with arms, ammunition and Molotov cocktails.  The morale was high because of that day’s victory.  “We shall hold out as long as possible,” we told each other.


            I asked my comrades to look for Iván-Kovács and arrest him.  From Kisfaludy Street, fourteen dead and six seriously injured had been brought in and he was directly responsible for these.  His deputy represented him at this meeting, in which the platoon leader, Péter Renner, also took part.  Renner asked for the execution of Iván-Kovács, which was the punishment for traitors.  Again, I was forced to quiet down the group because many of them agreed with him.


            “It is not up to us to deliver a death sentence.  If he is guilty, and I believe he is, he will not escape his fate.  The sentence has to come from a court of law.  There has not yet  been a single execution in Corvin and we do not want one to take place in the future.  We are fighting for our country but we will not become common killers.  I hope everyone understands this,” I said.


            When the meeting was over, I went with Doc and my two deputies to the cinema and to the school so that we could talk to our comrades.  Everybody was sad at the loss of Peg-leg Jancsi and the other comrades but we consoled them with Jancsi’s last words.  I told them what Jancsi had asked of us, that we not give up Corvin Circle.  “We shall try to do everything for the country and we shall not give up Corvin but this is voluntary.  Those who feel that the country can do without them, now that the Russian hordes have fallen upon us again, may leave whenever they please.  We shall not force anyone to stay here because we all took up arms of our own free will and, of our own free will, we can lay them down.  I shall stay here and continue the fight against the Russians who are occupying Hungary.  I really believe that the spirits of Peg-leg Jancsi, Scruffy and all the others are encouraging us to continue the fight to the last victory.”  I ended my speech.


            In the school, the fate of the AVH prisoners was the subject of discussion.  Erdős, Szabó, Doc, Jutka, Chubby, Zsuzsa, János, the reconnaissance captain and I sat down to talk about what we should do with them.  I mentioned that I did not want to make the decision alone but I wanted to have their support for my suggestions.  There were two possibilities.  The one was to stand them all up against the wall and execute them.  In that case, we would be committing common mass murder, in which I did not want to take part.  Even if only one of them were innocent, my conscience would trouble me for the rest of my life, and I believed that there were many innocent among them.  The other possibility was to free them.  I proposed this solution because we could then later on charge them with their crimes.  In my opinion, the enemy who attacks us with weapons should be repelled with weapons.  This was the defense of the homeland and this was why we took up arms but we had no right to make a decision over unarmed men.  That was the duty of the courts.  That was why I proposed to set them free.  “Does anyone have any objection or any other solution?”  I asked.


            Then a short discussion began, which resulted in their acceptance of my proposal.  I asked Szabó to have the guards surround them, lead them about a hundred meters along Práter Street and let them go.  In this way, we could avoid a possible reaction against them on the part of some of the revolutionaries.  The popular feeling about them was not favorable because of the latest Russian attack and this was one of the reasons that we had to make a decision about their fate.  If we continued to keep them at Corvin Circle, it was possible that none of them would remain alive.


            It must have been eight o’clock in the evening, when Szabó returned and reported to me that he had successfully completed his assignment.  Nobody was hurt.  Among those who were freed were Colonel Radosza, Imre Bozsó and László Tapolcsányi, just to mention a few.  Yet the White Book writes the following:


            “In Corvin Circle, the revolutionaries killed the AVH Lieutenant Kovács and Sergeant-Major István Izsó.  In front of the Práter Street School, several AVH men were beaten up and one stood up against the wall and shot.” (101)


            The propagandists of the “liberal” Kádár regime lied once again because, in Corvin Circle, there was never a single execution.  Perhaps it was a mistake that they did not execute anyone and the events which followed the Revolution prove it.  At the time, setting them free seemed to be the best solution.  Even then, we acted in a humane manner.


            Ervin Hollos, with the usual “truthfulness” of Socialist historians, summarizes this situation in three short sentences:


            “At dawn on November 4, the prisoners of Corvin Circle were taken into the basement and stood facing the wall.  The order of Gergely Pongrátz was that they should “finish them off with a hand-grenade”.  The sudden attack of the Russians, and the chaos and anarchy which resulted, allowed the majority of the prisoners to escape.” (102)


            It is unbelievable that the person who wrote these three sentences, an untrained and misleading historian, was appointed a professor by the Kádár regime.  At least he could have used logic in his writing.  Why would be have needed to take the prisoners to the basement and execute them there?  Even if this were the case, why would we have used a hand-grenade in an enclosed basement?  Can’t a Communist professor think of a simpler and more effective way to kill them?  Especially since the Corvinists followed my orders even if they did not agree with them.  If I had wanted to give this order, I would have chosen someone who would have been glad to carry it out.  There were many such people in Corvin Circle.  Regarding the sudden attack of the Soviets, in spite of the “chaos and anarchy” described by Hollos, we held them off until dawn on November 10.  On that day, the only reason that they captured Corvin Circle was that we surrendered.  We repelled every tank and infantry attack, which caused them great losses in men and ammunition.  They were forced to use heavy artillery attacks against us because we could not defend ourselves against these.  Naturally, Ervin Hollos does not mention this, nor do the other historians.  It is true that, in the wake of the unexpected attack, there was some chaos in Corvin for about an hour.  More praise to the Red Army that they had to launch this despicable ambush against children!  They needed heavy artillery for this!  On the contrary, when we freed our prisoners, in spite of our heavy losses, there was absolute order.  We repelled the first and biggest attack of the Revolution so strongly that the Russians, during this “sudden attack” lost a whole infantry regiment and six tanks.  This is true and it can be attributed to the Corvinists.  I have no knowledge of anyone killing unarmed men at Corvin during the Freedom Fight.


            The White Book mentions three AVH men who were executed by the Corvinists.  “Ferenc Brodorics, an officer of the Secret Police, was thrown out onto the street from a fourth floor window.” (103)  That is true but the reason for that action is not mentioned by the propagandists.  Ferenc Brodorics, an officer of the Secret Police, shot down four revolutionaries from this window.  When a Corvinist Patrol learned of this, they went into the house.  Beside the window, the floor was strewn with empty machine-gun shells.  They found the machine-gun in the laundry box and pulled Ferenc Brodorics out of a clothes closet.  He had to jump out of the same window from which he had shot the four revolutionaries.  This did not happen in Corvin Circle but farther up on Práter Street.


            Lieutenant Kovács of the Secret Police and Sergeant-Major István Izsó were probably killed by the Russians after we set the AVH prisoners free.  Károly Falus, a fashion photographer, who lent us the typewriter with which we wrote the answer to Colonel Kuzmenov at dawn on October 28, was killed by the Russians.  He was our friend, yet the Kádár regime blames us for his death.  On November 10, he was killed when the Russians occupied Corvin.


            Iván-Kovács also turned up.  The revolutionaries found him in a cellar.  They brought him to the school, where we interrogated him in the presence of all the commanders.  I was expecting some kind of explanation from him for his action in sending the revolutionaries who manned the tanks to sleep, contrary to my orders.  He just kept repeating that he was not guilty; that he had just made a mistake;  that he could not have known that the Russians would attack at dawn and that he had acted on good intentions when he sent the tired revolutionaries to bed.  He insisted that the mistake was not only his but also mine, for which I would have to answer in front of a judge.  I still do not know what he meant.


            We knew nothing of the fate of the Kilián Barracks.  We believed it was still standing.  I knew that it was not possible to keep Iván-Kovács in Corvin because someone among us would surely shoot him.  Therefore, I called for two volunteers to escort him to the prison of the Kilián Barracks, where he would remain until he could be tried.  I told him that, when he came before the judge, he could bring his accusations against me.  I believe that one becomes a man when one accepts the responsibility for one’s actions.  We Corvinists shall have to answer for our actions.  In all my actions and all my orders, I kept in mind how I could improve the fate of our nation, which at that time was not an easy task.  However, I do accept responsibility for all my actions and my orders.


            Péter Renner and another platoon leader volunteered to escort Iván-Kovács to the prison at the Kilián Barracks.  Half an hour later, Péter Renner reported what happened:


            “When we went out onto Kisfaludy Street, there was complete darkness on Üllö Avenue and in the Kilián Barracks.  My comrade remained on the corner of Kisfaludy Street, so that he could cover us from there.  Iván-Kovács walked in front of me.  I followed three or four meters behind him, with machine-gun at the ready.  When we reached the gate at Kilián, we received a long round of machine-gunfire, which caused Iván-Kovács to fall to the ground.  I returned the fire toward the flash of the gun and I ran back to this side of Üllö Avenue.  In the moonlight, I saw Iván-Kovács on the ground and I threw a hand-grenade at him which exploded on his body.  Iván-Kovács is dead.”


            I was faced with an accomplished fact which I did not wish to complicate and which was not even possible to complicate  I told Péter Renner that it was not his duty to do that but I don’t think he had any alternative.  This is why Iván-Kovács had to die. 


            It came out later that Péter Renner had allowed Iván-Kovács to get away and, at the end of the Revolution, he was captured, sentenced to death and executed as a Commander of Corvin.  The White Book writes much more of him, an example of which follows:


            “He went from the radio-station to Corvin Circle, where he received a gun and where, from the 26th. on, when the former leader of Corvin departed, he became the Commander until November 1, when Gergely Pongrátz was elected instead of him” (104)


            This statement again is completely unfounded.  First of all, László Iván-Kovács was never Commander of Corvin Circle.  He was first platoon-leader and then company commander when, at my request, and that of Szabó and Erdős, the few men who surrounded him were made into a company.  This does not mean that he was Commander of Corvin Circle.  Secondly, the person who stated that he had fled became my deputy on October 30 and, in the middle of November, he died a hero’s death.   His name was László Szabó.  Thirdly, as I have already mentioned, until October 30, Corvin Circle had no commander-in-chief.  Therefore, they magnified his position as commander because they needed someone that they could hold responsible, as a scapegoat.  I think about how much the regime of János Kádár must have regretted that, from among the leaders and group members of Corvin Circle, only Iván-Kovács fell into their hands.  The others either died heroic deaths or they chose to emigrate and the regime sentenced them to death in their absence.


            Ervin Hollos also writes in an interesting manner about this:

            “On October 31, when Imre Nagy received  the leaders of the revolutionary armed groups in the Minister’s office, Gergely Pongrátz held a gun in one hand and, with the other, he held the lapel of Imre Nagy’s coat and told him: ‘The administration of justice will be in our hands.’  The Commander (here he is thinking of Iván-Kovács) did not agree with the Pongrátz brothers and emphasized that we have to accept those who come to our side and prove their loyalty and, moreover, we have to take a stand and acknowledge the Government of Imre Nagy.  He was the more tactical, the more intelligent revolutionary but the mood and the situation among the declared revolutionaries favored the most extreme among them.  This is why they removed him and, moreover, on  November 3, they wanted to arrest him.  The former Commander of Corvin had to flee, first to the group on Práter Street, where he had a few friends, but there he did not feel that his safety was secured because they were looking for him and his fiancée.” (105)

            We know well that the Communist history writing resembles the fairy tales of Hans Christian Anderson[28], in the “glorious” Soviet Union as well as in all the Communist countries.  Hollos is a faithful descendant of his glorious Communist ancestors. Let us see the facts.


            First: I was never inside the Parliament or in the office of the Prime Minister.


            Second: Unfortunately, I have never met Imre Nagy, which I sincerely regret because I respect him.


            Third: From the time of the negotiations on October 29, which were held at Corvin Circle, we accepted the Government of Imre Nagy.  Nobody needed to persuade us to accept it.  We stood beside him, not only with words but also with arms as much as was humanly possible.


            Fourth:  Nobody removed Iván-Kovács.  On the contrary, from a platoon leader he became a company commander because, in this way, I wanted to make up for the events which took place at the Party Building on Rákoczi Square.  On November 4, he was arrested for treason but, with the aid of his friend, Péter Renner, he escaped.


            We know that a man’s life, even the life of the crowd, in the philosophy of Lenin and Stalin, has no value, especially to the Hungarian Communists, for the mass murders that they have committed in Hungary since 1945, have never been matched by those committed by the Poles and the Rumanians.  The historians have to examine this question, just as they must examine the role of Maléter, after the Communist regime has been overthrown, when “unbiased” historians are able to obtain authentic facts.


            It was approaching midnight when I met Erdős in the cafeteria of the school, where the cook had given me something to eat.  Doc, Jutka, Chubby, Zsuzsa and a few others were discussing the events of the day.  Erdős mentioned that the Russians, with their Red Cross trucks, had picked up their dead.  They had carried away about eight truckloads of dead.  I believe he wanted to console us because of our heavy losses.

            The mood was bitter but everyone was of the opinion that we should hold on.  Those who wanted to had left.  The disappearance of the army advisors bothered us because they were the trained soldiers.  Now that the Russian attacks had started again, the revolutionaries were once more alone.  According to the report of Erdős, we still had about six-hundred Corvinists who were ready for anything.  We were well-supplied with arms, ammunition and Molotov cocktails.  That group had enormous fighting power.  The Russians had already experienced this.





            At dawn, just as it was getting light, the Russians began their attack against Corvin with strong infantry and T-34 and T-54 tanks.  The Russian foot-soldiers were dropping like flied under the heavy fire of the revolutionaries.  It was a very bitter fight from their point of view too, because they were not prepared for such a strong resistance.  The major difference between us was that we knew why we were fighting and we accepted that fight with our own free will.  We were all ready to die in defense of our homeland.  A man cannot sacrifice his life for a more noble goal.  The Russian soldiers were forced by their political officers to attack, and they were noticeably unwilling to fight.  They had no other choice.  They had to continue their attack against us or they would die from the bullets of their political officers.  Viktor, the Russian soldier who did not want to go back to his army unit and who asked us to shoot him instead, told us spine-chilling stories which gave us a clear picture of the morale of the Red Army in Hungary.  We really felt sorry for them because, without a goal, they had to throw away their young lives on the command of their officers and political leaders.  We had no solution for that either.  They attacked us and we defended.  This is why the Russian Army suffered enormous losses in Hungary in 1956, about which the Russians, the propagandists of János Kádár and the western historians are silent, yet this is a topic which would be worth their addressing.  It is true that “the Great Russian Power” stamped out the Hungarian freedom in blood but they paid a high price for it.  There are statistical data for the losses suffered by the residents of Budapest, which Péter Gosztonyi collects from different sources but not for the Russian Army. (106)


            In Budapest, the following numbers of Hungarian dead were recorded:

October 1956                          757

November 1956                926

December 1956                  36

January 1957                                6

Unidentified                              220

Total in Budapest                   1,945

Total in the countryside            557

Injured between October 23, 1956 and December 31, 1956:

In Budapest                             16,700

In the countryside               2,526


            These numbers do not include those killed by Russian military law in Budapest.  One of these courts of military law was located at the Kossuth Academy from which an “executed” revolutionary escaped and, when I visited him in Germany, in 1960, he told me what had taken place.


            Sándor Gazdagh was one of the youngest platoon commanders at Corvin Circle.  In August of 1956, he turned fourteen.  He was one of the boys whom we tried many times to send home.  During the battles, he did a good job and the comrades who were in his group, in spite of his youth, chose him to be the commander.  In those days, it was not the age, but the spirit which counted.  And in Sanyi (Sándor) a true Hungarian heart was beating.  He merited his rank of commander, not only during the Revolution but also during the Freedom Fight.  He held out with us until the last day, November 15, when my group was disbanded and he went home, crying.


            On November 17, a Russian patrol stopped him on the street and checked his pockets.  They found a bullet in his pocket, so they took him to the Kossuth Academy where, in the auditorium, a six member Russian military jury sentenced him that fourteen year-old boy to death.


            A Russian soldier escorted him to the back of the courtyard where, close to the medical-center, beside the stone wall, was a pile of corpses and, next to it, a freshly dug hole.  The Russian soldier stopped about five or six meters before the stone wall and sent Sanyi on ahead.  The boy was waiting for the shot to come at any second but it was delayed.  When he was only a meter away from the stone wall, he started to turn to see why the Russian soldier did not shoot and, as he turned, he heard the shot and the bullet, which was aimed to reach the base of his skull, struck him under his right ear and came out under his left eye.  Sanyi fell but did not lose consciousness.  The Russian soldier stepped over to him and aimed his gun at the throat of the boy lying on the ground.  Sanyi leaned on his elbow and tried, with his left hand, to push away the barrel of the pistol.  When the second shot rang out, he lost consciousness.


            He woke up, feeling cold, with something pressing on his back and on his legs.  It was a number of corpses of people who were executed after him.  He had lost a lot of blood but, after an enormous struggle, he succeeded in pulling himself out from under the corpses.  However, although he was now fully conscious, he did not have enough strength to stand.  He knew that it was night and he knew that he needed help because he was still bleeding.  He crawled slowly alongside the stone wall toward the medical-center until he reached the entrance.  The lower part of the gate had fallen out and he was able to crawl through.  He knew where he was because he was well acquainted with this district.  On the other side of the street was a line of clinics, side by side.  He prayed for enough strength to reach one of them.  After an enormous effort, he reached the door, rang the bell and lost consciousness again. 


            When he regained his senses, he found himself in a white bed.  The nurses told him he had been there for three days.  He was not at the same clinic where he had rung the bell because the doctors were afraid that, if the Russians found out that one of their corpses had escaped, they would find him if they followed the traces of blood.  They had brought him here, through the gardens to this clinic, where he would be safe.


            The first bullet which had hit him caused the loss of his left eye.  The second one shattered his lower jaw, with the result that he could neither eat nor speak.  He was fed intravenously.  He had lost so much blood that it was a wonder that he was still alive.  His left thumb was also shattered by the second bullet.


            Sanyi could hear and understand everything but could reply only by writing his answers on paper. He wrote what had happened to him and asked that they notify one of his comrades whom he would like to come and visit him.  He gave them the name and an address.  The doctors did everything they could to get him back on his feet.  They operated three times and, finally, in the middle of January, he was well enough to leave the hospital.  He did not go home but, with the help of two Corvinist friends, went straight to Yugoslavia because the Austrian border was very dangerous at that time.  After a short stay in Yugoslavia, he ended up in West Germany where, through the World Federation of Freedom Fighters, he was able to contact me.  In the fall of 1960, I visited him in Germany, where he told me his story.


            In Germany, he had many more operations.  He received a glass eye and, from a bone in his hip, they rebuilt his jaw.  He had to take medication for his constant headaches which were unbearable but his spirit was strong, just as it was in Corvin Circle.  To my questions, he answered that he would do it all again from the very beginning.  In Germany, he completed high school and became a law student at the university.  He received a scholarship and lived in the college dormitory.  He was adopted by a German family.


            I have written briefly about Sanyi’s case but a whole book could be written about his experiences, a spine-chilling and informational story.  For my part, I have something to add to the account.  I am very proud to be able to call Sanyi and the other youth of Budapest my comrades, friends and brothers.  Sanyi proved that he was almost invincible, for he had not only survived the Revolution and the Freedom Fight but also his own execution.  As long as this revolutionary spirit lives in the youths, there is still hope for the creation of a free, independent and true Socialist Hungarian nation.


            At dawn on November 5, when the Russians began their attack against Corvin Circle, they found us well-prepared.  This attack, just like the others, saw both sides fighting a hard and bitter fight.  We had an enormous advantage over the Russians because we were fighting for the freedom of our country.  We had plenty of arms, ammunition, food and fighters and the morale of the Freedom Fighters grew after they had succeeded in repelling each Russian attack.  Some of the Freedom Fighters left but new ones replaced them.  The new arrivals brought news to us, completely isolated from the outside world.  It is true that sometimes, especially in the evening, when the fighting died down, we received official or semi-official visitors.  At those times, either we received encouragement or we had to give it to them.  We knew that Szabó’s group was defeated by the Russians at Széna Square.  The men of Jóska Dudás were also scattered.  The group at Baross Park was still fighting, but they just held on by a thread.  The visitors we received came from the Government, the Writers’ Association or one of the Workers’ Councils and they all informed us of the sad fate of Budapest.  The new fighters who joined us were former members of the groups which had been scattered by the Russians. On November 6, 7 and 8, new fighters were still arriving to become Corvinists.  Even at that time, it was still an honor to become a Corvinist, and the comrades felt that deep in their hearts.  Every day and every hour of every day they performed heroic acts which were worthy of the greatest acknowledgment but for them, a word of praise or a pat on the back was enough.


            The Kilián Barracks was closest to us but, interestingly enough, we knew nothing of what went on there. (107)


            At eleven o’clock in the morning, I looked for a volunteer who would go over to Kilián to find out if it was still standing or if it was occupied by the Russians.  A sixteen year-old revolutionary volunteered.  I asked him if he were not afraid to cross Üllö Avenue in the midst of such heavy fighting and if he knew the odds  against his reaching there and coming back alive.


            “I know,” he answered.  “I have very little chance of succeeding but I will try.”


            “If you know the danger, then why did you volunteer?” I asked him in surprise.


            “Because, Mustache, if you want to send somebody over there, it must be important,” he answered, and it was obvious that he did not think of it as an extraordinary or heroic task.


            “You are mistaken, my friend! Your life is much more important to me than the Kilián Barracks.  We have been without them until now and we can do without them in the future.  You are not going anywhere,” I answered, very moved.


            The boy’s behavior made me think, and this was when I was able to determine who was a “hero”.  If somebody does not know the danger which surrounds him and yet goes into action, he is just reckless or simply foolish but he who knows the danger and yet still faces it to accomplish a goal, is a true hero.


            The Freedom Fighters knew the danger very well.  Even if they forgot it accidentally from one minute to the next, the comrades who fell beside them reminded them immediately.


            Without false modesty, I can state that the greatest honor of my life was to be elected Commander-in-Chief of these heroes of Corvin.  This office imposes upon me for as long as I live, the duty to nourish and defend the spirit of these heroes, who gave their all for their country.  Perhaps God has allowed me to live this long so that I may write this book in defense of the “boys and girls of Budapest” whose spirit will live forever and who wrote with their blood on the Hungarian flag the words which best characterize them: MINDENT A HAZAÉRT! (ALL FOR THE HOMELAND!)


            The White Book again writes a fairy tale when it writes of the surrender of Corvin:


            “On November 9, the Russian troops surrounded Corvin Circle and, with this, the battle was over.  The remaining armed youths laid down their arms and scattered. . .(108)


            “In house Number 4, unbelievable quantities of war supplies were found, among them seven truckloads of ammunition and two balloons of nitroglycerin.”(109)


            On November 9, in the late afternoon, the outer guards of Corvin captured a Russian colonel and a sergeant-major, who were in hiding.  They escorted them to the headquarters, where the interrogation began.  Both were wearing civilian clothes and neither of them spoke Hungarian. They seemed suspicious and the guards arrested them because  they found tools in their briefcases.  During the interrogation, they said nothing or rather, what they said was a lie.  They stated that they were heading for the Soviet Embassy but they got lost.  The commanders locked them in the bathroom which, if necessary was sometimes used as a temporary prison.


            That day, the fighting stopped in the early morning hours.  This was noteworthy because we were usually fighting to repel the Russian attack well into the late evening and, on three occasions, they attacked us in the night.  Even so, nobody suspected that the Russians were preparing for something major.  We believed that, on the next day, the 10th., we would receive another strong Russian attack or that they were organizing another night attack.  We prepared to repel them.


            At ten o’clock in the evening, I was called to the office because the Russian colonel wanted to talk to me.  He had been asked what he wanted and he would only repeat: “I want to talk to the Commander.”  He was not willing to tell anyone else but the Commander that important piece of information.


            The interpreter was a university student who spoke Russian well.  The colonel revealed that he was a survey officer and that Corvin had already been measured.  At dawn, the Russians would start to fire with heavy artillery and would destroy Corvin completely.  Now that we knew what was going to happen, we could do as we pleased but he asked that we take him and the sergeant far away from Corvin, anywhere, but far away.


            I called the commanders and leaders together: Doc, Chubby, Jutka, the three doctors of Corvin; Zsuzsa, (who was one of my best comrades during the fighting and also when there was no fighting); Erdős and Szabó, my two deputies, and the other four commanders.  We talked about the situation which, at that time, looked hopeless.  My feeling was that we should surrender Corvin.  It would not have been a big problem to resist the infantry and tank attacks because we had enough arms, ammunition and fighters to hold out for a few more days.  However, we could not hope to repel a heavy artillery attack.  I knew that we could not defend ourselves against such an attack and, if we did not want to commit suicide, we had to give up Corvin.  During the negotiations, the surrender of Görgey[29] at Világos was mentioned.  He had fallen into a situation such as ours, in 1849, after the Revolution.  I said that I fully understood Görgey’s decision to surrender because he did not want to take the remaining Hungarian Army to the slaughterhouse, when he could see that there was not even a ray of hope.  The Kilián Barracks had fallen on November 4.  Even those Corvinists who were holding Kör Avenue around Kilián were scattered by the Russians, led there by the AVH.  The revolutionaries, led by Szabó, held out at Széna Square until six o’clock.  We knew nothing of  Dudás, whose role in the Revolution was more political.  On November 9, we heard shooting here and there around Budapest but the intense fighting continued in Corvin. 


            Neither the Russian tanks nor their infantry had been  able to occupy Corvin, but they had suffered heavy losses.  That is why it was necessary to bring in the heavy artillery and destroy this last revolutionary group at all costs.  We now knew that we could not expect any help or support from anyone.  The Hungarian Army did not fight against the Russians and the AVH, either during the Revolution (October 23 to 28) or during the Freedom Fight (after November 4).  The young people of Budapest had bled to death and now only the Corvinists were holding out.  However, with the news that we had received from the Russian colonel, we had come to a crossroads and I did not want to decide alone.  I gave my opinion and I trusted the decision of the commanders and the leaders.  We had three possibilities, two examples from past history: one at the Battle of Mohács, 1526, where the Turks massacred the Hungarian Army, the second at Világos in 1849, where, to avoid a massacre, they laid down their arms.  We, however, had a third possibility.  We could give up Corvin but continue to fight somewhere else.  We would not lay down our arms; we would hold out as long as possible.


            We chose the last option, upon which we all agreed except one.  That commander said that, with his men, he would notify the civilians and make arrangements to evacuate the area.  His men would move out too but not too far and, as soon as the artillery fire was over, they would come back so that they could welcome the Russians.  He knew that Corvin Circle would be occupied by the Russians but they would not give it to them for nothing.  The Russians would have to pay a bitter price for it.


            The Corvinists divided into three groups under Erdős, Szabó and myself and, at three o’clock in the morning, we started the evacuation.  I still had some other duties to attend to.  I called the Russian colonel into the office, while everyone was still there, and told him that we would give up Corvin.  If what he had told us was true, he would be free to leave with his sergeant but, if it was not true but only a trick to achieve the surrender of Corvin, then they would each receive a bullet . . .and I showed him my gun.


            “Now do you still state that they are going to attack at dawn with heavy artillery?”  I asked.  “Yes,” answered the colonel and he begged us to hurry.


            I placed the colonel and the sergeant under guard, with four armed men with machine-guns.  With the help of Zsuzsa and two fighters, I gathered together all the documents, making sure the name-list of the Corvinists was among them.  We put them into an empty ammunition box, and took them to Kisfaludy Street, poured gasoline onto the box, lit it and waited for the papers to burn.  We stamped on the remaining ash.  In this way, we made sure that the name-list of the Corvinists would never fall into the hands of the Communists.


When we started the evacuation, we were all crying.  Erdős and Szabó left with their groups and the commander who had decided to stay nearby was looking for volunteers to stay with him.  There were about fifty of them who really held out until the end.


            It could have been the many sleepless nights or the fact of giving up Corvin, or a combination of the two, which caused my body, which I thought was very strong, to give out.  I had no strength to stand up when it was time to go.  Jutka and Zsuzsa, my two loyal comrades, supported me and dragged me through the pitch black streets of Pest.  We occupied a building behind the market-place at Rákoczi Square and the residents all moved into the cellar.


            The White Book writes the following about the surrender of Corvin:  “They evacuated the headquarters which had become dangerous and they gathered in small groups in the Continental Hotel and in the houses on Kör Avenue, Rákoczi Avenue and Üllö Avenue.” (110)


            On November 10, in the late afternoon, I came to myself.  I was in a third floor room, where Jutka and Zsuzsa had put me to bed but I did not remember any of it.  When I came to my senses, I got dressed and went out.  In front of the door, I found two of my men with machine-guns, standing in the corridor, guarding me.  It felt good to be cared for.  One of them went down with me to the janitor’s apartment, which had become the first-aid room.  The other remained on guard because the room in which I had slept had been chosen to be the new headquarters (to which I never returned).

In the new first-aid center, I found the three doctors, Zsuzsa, and a few wounded men who had come in to have their dressings changed.  There too, were the Russian colonel and the sergeant who were talking to Chubby, who spoke Russian well.  Jutka told me that Doc had come back from Corvin about a half-hour earlier.  He had gone there to check out the situation.  In the meantime, he had been injured.  A bullet had gone through both of his thighs but luckily it did not strike bone so he was not seriously injured.  He lay down in the other room but told Zsuzsa she should wake him as soon as I appeared because he wanted to talk to me.  He wanted to tell me what he had seen there.


Picture 27 (p.231)

82, József Boulevard.  The entrance to Corvin on the right.


Picture 28 (p.231)

The corner of Ferenc Boulevard and Üllö Avenue.  Opposite Kilián.


Picture 29 (p.232)

The other side of József Boulevard.  The building before Corvin.


Picture 39 (p. 233)

The corner of József Boulevard and Üllö Avenue.  The Valeria coffee-shop.


            I went into the room, sat down on Doc’s bed and woke him.  He told me that the Russians had afflicted unimaginable damage on Corvin.  They had almost razed it to the ground. He had met one of the revolutionaries who had stayed behind, who told him what had happened there.  At six o’clock in the morning, the heavy artillery fire began and it lasted about an hour and a half.  During this time, the revolutionaries were in a basement on Práter Street, waiting for the end of the firing.  Everybody had two machine-guns and ten to fifteen magazines and was well-provided with hand grenades.  The commander appointed everyone to the position he had to take immediately the firing stopped.  The Russians attacked with tanks, armored cars and infantry but it looked as if they did not expect any resistance because the infantry came along with the vehicles.  The Freedom Fighters were waiting for them on the roofs of the ruined houses and, after a good hour of heavy fighting, Corvin fell.  Perhaps only six of the revolutionaries remained alive.  Their commander was also killed.  There were so many Russian dead that the area was covered like a carpet.  While the revolutionaries were in the cellar, they kept telling each other: “We shall die but they will pay a high price for us!”  Corvin fell; they died but the Russians really paid a high price for them.  This revolutionary was injured three times yet he helped Doc to come back after he had been shot in the thighs.


            I went into the other room where they were guarding the Russian colonel and sergeant.  I told them that they could go free.  I asked two revolutionaries to escort them to the edge of Városliget.  We shook hands before they left.  I had kept my word.






            Between November 10 and 15, the group of Corvinists, who came with me, occupied the building behind the market on Rákoczi Square.  The residents moved down into the cellar and left the whole building at our disposal.  This building was easily defended against tank attacks.  We did not have to worry about infantry attacks either because we were in a favorable position.  It is true that the mood was bitter but this bitterness gave us a spiritual strength which is unimaginable under normal circumstances.  We can call these days anything but normal.  The revolutionaries were well armed and, in groups of different sizes, they were still fighting with the Russian patrols here and there in Budapest.


            I must acknowledge that this was no longer a Revolution or a Freedom Fight.  The only purpose of these altercations was to harass the enemy, the Russian occupying forces. The Corvinists did a good job in this respect.


            The Revolution had been successful!  The Freedom Fight had been crushed in blood by the soldiers of the Russian Army.  The youths of 1956 are worthy descendants of the Hungarian youths of 1848 who fought for the same goal and who, like us, were crushed by the Russian imperialism.  As the spirit of 1848 lives on and influences the Hungarian future, in the same way, the spirit of the youths of 1956 is invincible.  The Czarist Russian Empire, which extinguished the torch of the Freedom Fight of 1848, no longer exists.  I know that the Communist Russian Empire, which crushed the Freedom Fight of 1956, will sink in the wastebasket of History!!!


            The Corvinists, however, were still fighting.  During these days, heroic deeds occurred which we cannot fail to mention.  It is a fact that, on November 13, the Corvinists posted announcements on trees and walls for the populace of the capital to read, to prove that we were still there, that we had not laid down our arms.  As long as we could, we would hold out.  This is the text of the announcements:


            “Hungarians!  Hungary has not lost while the people remain faithful to the ideal of freedom!  The struggle is not over and will not end as long as the Soviet occupying forces walk on our land sanctified by the blood of many Hungarian heroes.


            “For centuries, the Hungarian people have proved that they want a free, independent country.  We have not yet laid down our arms.  Listen to Csepel, Tatabánya, Pécs and the other cities and villages and to the Freedom Fighters who have fled to the forests and who are still fighting.


            “Help them with your sympathy and the biggest weapon of the workers, the strike!


            “The Corvin Revolutionary Committee is still active.  We announce the following to the people of the nation:


“We want to be a free nation and a free country!

We demand the Government of Imre Nagy!

We want a multiple party system.

We want free elections supervised by the U.N.

We honor and respect the Freedom Fighters who fell in the Freedom Fight.

Don’t trust the Communist puppet government of Kádár!

Fight against the newly organized AVH.

Death to the enemies of the Revolution!

Death to the Soviet troops!

The people will not forget!  They will remember the provocateurs.

Strike until the final victory!

                                                The National Revolutionary Committee.

                                                Corvin Headquarters.”


However, we already knew that our hours and days were numbered.  We knew that we could not hold out much longer.  These last days were filled with heroic deeds which I would like to record for history because they are worthy of it.


We had scarcely finished writing this declaration, which my comrades took to have copies made, when we heard that Zsuzsa was injured.  She was at the First-Aid Station  and Chubby was working on her injury.  I ran to the First-Aid Station.  Zsuzsa’s white uniform was red with blood.  I shuddered at the sight of her.  Chubby calmed me by saying that only the surface skin was injured but it bled profusely.  The injury was not serious.  I was not to worry. 


            Zsuzsa shouted that there were other injured who were bleeding to death because nobody dared to go out and bring them in.  She was constantly jumping up, wanting to go to them but Jutka held her down and made her stay in her seat while Chubby worked on her wound. 


            Jutka reported that, scarcely fifteen meters from the gate, on one side of the market-place, there were about ten of our wounded.  On the other corner of Rákoczi Square, on the Kör Avenue side, a Russian tank had moved in and kept this section under fire with both its machine-guns and its 76-cannon.  It fired at every moment.


            “Go out, Mustache, and see what can be done!  Somehow we have to bring them in because they are all bleeding to death.”


            I went out to the gate and, beside the back wall of the market-place, I saw twenty or twenty-five of our fighters.  I went over to them and they also told me about the situation which really was very dangerous.  Viktor, the Russian soldier, was among them.  Since October 27, he had found many friends among the Corvinists.  He was free and could go where he pleased.  Now he was hiding among the others beside the wall.  He saw; he knew what was happening.


            I lay on my stomach and, creeping as low as possible, I reached the first injured person who was just two meters within the range of fire.  I held his two hands and slowly, centimeter by centimeter, I pulled him back out of the range of fire.  I had hardly moved half a meter, when a sixteen year-old girl, with hair in braids, appeared beside me.  She had crept after me.  Her name was Erzsike and I met her again in Paris.  She had married a Corvinist.


            “Leave him to me, Mustache.  I will take him the rest of the way.  Go and get another.”


            I pulled a second injured man from the range of fire and I was going back for a third, when an enormous explosion shook the air.  I was already within the firing range so I could not move.  I thought the 76-cannon had fired.  I was waiting for the sound of the impact, which did not occur.  My comrades started to shout, “The tank has exploded!  The tank has exploded!  Viktor destroyed the tank!”


            Within minutes, the wounded were all in the First Aid Station, where Jutka, Chubby and Doc took care of them.  We had three dead whom we left at the gate.  One of the revolutionaries told me what had happened:


            “When you went out to get the first injured man, Viktor asked me for a hand-grenade.  I gave him one.  He called me to go with him.  We stopped at the other corner of the market-place and Viktor tried to explain to me that he would destroy that tank with the hand-grenade.  He indicated that I should stay in place and watch the tank.  He went around the block and approached the tank from Kör Avenue, at the same time, shouting something in Russian.  They opened up the trap-door and he climbed in.  Not a minute later, the tank blew up.  The ammunition inside it blew up too.”


            Viktor, a twenty year-old Russian soldier, gave up his life for the freedom of Hungary.  The hand-grenade must have exploded the ammunition in the tank and that caused the tremendous explosion which caused the tank to blow to pieces.  If, in the future, the names of the heroes of the Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight are listed, Viktor, the twenty year-old Russian soldier, should be among them because he was just as much a hero, perhaps an even greater hero than those Hungarian revolutionaries who sacrificed their lives for the country.


             I had first met Chubby on October 25, when I had gone down to 82, József Boulevard to look around.  As I have already mentioned, he was a lieutenant and a doctor in the medical corps and, during the Revolution and the Freedom Fight, he wore his army uniform.  He was a quiet, good-humored person, who had a very good rapport with the Freedom Fighters, especially the injured.  In Corvin Circle, everyone loved him and respected him.  I don’t know why he got the nickname of Chubby because, although he was a well-built man, he could not be called fat.  He never expressed any kind of political view but he was always proud to be a Hungarian, as he was proud of his uniform.  This is why he never changed into civilian clothes.  Several times, I had tried to convince him to go to some of the negotiations or, if we had meetings at Corvin, I invited him to participate but his answer was always the same: “Mustache, I am a doctor and I know nothing of anything else.  At the negotiations or at the meetings, I might say something which would cause you to regret having invited me, so I will not go!”


            I believe the good Lord sent him to us as a doctor.  He was able to persuade the injured to allow him to operate on them without anesthetics and they did not even cry out.  He worked twice on me, first on the injury beside my eye, which I did not want to have clamped but he convinced me.  “How old are you, Mustache?”  “Twenty-four,” I answered.


            “You are not married, are you?” he asked.  “When the Revolution comes to an end, with such an ugly scar beside your eye, you will not be able to find a wife.  If I close the wound with a few clamps, later on you will not be able to see a trace of the injury, even with a magnifying glass.  Then you will be able to find wives by the dozen.”


            He said that in such a way that everyone in the First Aid Station laughed.  He leaned closer to me and continued quietly, “You have to be an example for the boys.  They will think you are afraid of a few clamps!”


            On November 6, he removed a bullet from my right shoulder-blade.  “Mustache, you are lucky because this bullet is just as tired as you are.  That’s why it stopped at your shoulder-blade,” he told me with a calming laugh.


            On November 14, in the early afternoon, two revolutionaries with machine-guns, who had joined us from other groups, arrested Chubby and led him to me.  They accused him of being an AVH lieutenant.


            “Boys,” I said.  “Chubby has been with us since the beginning of the Revolution.  He has proved his allegiance over and over again.  Why do you think he is an AVH man?  Do you have any proof that he belongs to the AVH?


            “Nobody has ever seen him take up a machine-gun and go out to fight the Russians or the AVH,” they answered.


            “Don’t be silly, boys!  His duty is not to go out and fight but, when you pick up a bullet or two, his duty is to take it out of you!  A doctor’s duty is to take care of the wounded and you have to acknowledge that Chubby has held his ground just as Doc or Jutka have.  Because he is not as brave as you are, does not mean that he is an AVH man.  Get going and leave Chubby in peace.  Go and thank him for saving the lives of many of our comrades.”


            The two revolutionaries went off.  Chubby remained and sat down on a chair.  He was very serious.  I saw tears in his eyes when he spoke:


            “Mustache, you said that I am a coward?  I shall show you that I am not.”


            “Chubby, for God’s sake,” I begged him.  “Don’t be childish.  Somehow I had to reassure those two idiots that you were not an AVH man.  I, more than anybody else, know what you have done for all of us.  Nobody forced you to become the doctor of the Corvinists.  Believe me, I am very grateful for the work you, Jutka and Doc took upon yourselves.  In any case, it looks as if it is all over.  We will not get help from anywhere and we cannot hold out any longer on our own.  I believe that to continue to resist would be suicide.  We are all exhausted, mentally and physically.  Now, really, only the advice of Maléter remains to us.  Let us go home and lie down.  Chubby, you are my friend and I love you like a brother.  I believe that the blood of our comrades has christened all of us as brothers, and this brotherhood will last as long as we live.  I ask you, as your brother, to go home, lie down and get a good night’s rest.  It is possible that, during the night or at the latest, tomorrow morning, we shall go home too, because further resistance is hopeless.  From now on, every drop of Hungarian blood spilled is to no avail.  More than enough has been spilled in vain.


            Chubby’s tears were flowing and he stood up and embraced me.  He said only this:

            “Mustache, you are my brother!”


            It must have been eight o’clock in the evening, when my comrades brought in Chubby’s dead body.  With a machine-gun in his hand, he had singly taken on the first Russian patrol he saw.  Even today, I feel that he did that in order to prove that he was not a coward, and I am still hurting.


            On the morning of November 15, a large group of revolutionaries started out to the West.  According to my information, they got into a fight with a large Russian unit and they suffered serious losses.


            Around noon, Jutka, Zsuzsa, Doc and I left Rákoczi Square, after looking around to make sure that everyone had left, because we did not want to leave anyone behind.  We avoided the main roads as far as possible.  At the corner of Orczi Square, we embraced each other and separated.  All four of us cried.  Jutka and Doc went in different directions.  Zsuzsa, who had a blue hat covering the bandage on her head, started to walk with me toward Pest Erzébet.  We walked the whole distance, supporting each other.  When we reached my brother Ernő’s apartment, they sent me to bed immediately.  Ernő took Zsuzsa home.  It was dark by then. 







            The Budapest Party Committee had two very important roles during the Revolution.  The one was to organize military operations to suppress the Revolution; more exactly, to provide arms to those Communists who were ready to take up arms to support the Soviets.  The other, in case the Revolution were to be successful, was to plant men, not only in the National Guard but also among the leadership of the Revolutionary forces.  Ervin Hollos supports this statement in his writings:


            “When the elections of the so-called “Revolutionary Committees and Factory Advisory Boards” were begun, the leaders of the Budapest Party Committee decided that they would have to become involved in these and that they would have to try to secure the influence of those Communists who agreed with them.  They considered it important because it became clear to them that many honest men were to take part in these newly-elected organizations.  They regarded these new “committees and advisory boards” as battlegrounds where they tried to isolate the reactionary influence and suppress it.  With this in mind, they gave advice and sent out Communist comrades to the district Party committees.  In quite a few districts, the Party Committee started to accomplish these duties independently.  To these committees, they invited former coalition Party leaders, who expressed a willingness to work with the Communists.” (111)


            The former AVH men received National Guard Identification Cards and “the Tenth District Party Committee gave arms to six hundred Communists from the District Treasury building”. (112)


            I have already mentioned that Maléter was one of these “planted” Communists, and I have talked of his role during the Revolution.  After the Revolution was suppressed, typically his Communist comrades abandoned him because they no longer needed him.  Those books and studies which deal with the subject of the Revolution, in Hungary and abroad, and which originate for the most part from these “planted” Communists, always place Maléter at the forefront of the Revolution.  Their so-called “authenticity” does not serve the best interest of historical truth because it misleads those honest Hungarian historians abroad, who study the Hungarian Revolution and who rely on this distorted information.  In the journal, Századok, which is the official journal of the Hungarian Historical Society, János Molnár writes the following: “The collaboration between the Corvinists and Maléter was one of the conditions of the ‘new army’." (113)  In the same paragraph, Molnár states: “Not only individual soldiers but also officers and army units changed sides”, and this he places on October 25.  A few pages farther on, however, he states: “In the staff of officers, there were revisionist officers but these did not come forward until after October 28 and 30.” (114)  Therefore, Molnár’s writing is just as misleading as “those writings which appear in the foreign press which, although they correctly place the arrival of Maléter at the Kilián Barracks on October 25, at the same time, they state that Maléter had already changed sides on the morning of October 25.” (115)


            Noel Barber, a journalist for the London Daily Mail, in Chapter 4 of his book, The Living Legend, places Maléter’s change of face on the 24th.

            According to Molnár: “Maléter and his comrades, after November 4, denied this and only acknowledged that their volte-face took place on November 28, after the Government declaration and cease-fire.  It is probable that both viewpoints are exaggerated and that Maléter carried on his double-dealing until the 28th.  He negotiated with the revolutionaries and, at the same time, with the government troops, objected that the radio called him a traitor, yet asked for ammunition from the soldiers guarding the studio, to use against the revolutionaries.” (116)

            János Molnár, the writer who supports the Communist viewpoint, whom the Kádár regime allowed to write such studies as: Fegyveres csoportok 1956-ban: Az Ellenforradalom Hadserege  (Armed groups in 1956: The Army of the Counter-Revolution), misleads the public and evades the issue.  As a historian, the archives of the Ministry of the Interior were available to him, as were the confessions, the minutes, and all the materials he needed to write the truth about what happened in 1956 in Hungary.  He does quote minutes but he distorts and misrepresents the facts and even omits some parts.  His sources of reference are those distorted historical writings which appeared abroad and which were acceptable to the Kádár political regime.  Not even Molnár went as far as these foreign writers.  This is proven in the last sentence of the quotation which follows.  These foreign writers are the agents of the Kádár regime, their texts being suggested by people who were not even in Hungary at the time of the Revolution or, if they were there, they were fighting on the other side of the barricades.  Many of them searched for the deepest cellars where they could hide safely until the Revolution was over.

            “This reflects the opinion that ‘the typical revolutionary with gun in hand’ was not particularly attractive, that many of them were hooligans and suspicious characters, who did not make a good impression, who were fascists and former convicts, and the revolutionaries at Corvin Circle were the Pongrátz band of rowdies.  These are very harsh statements.” (117)  Here Molnár refers to Basil Davidson, Méray and Pál Zinner.  He quotes Zinner: “Kálmán Pongrácz, a rough, tough Lumpenproletariat type, who led a determined band of rowdies at Corvinus Place in an industrial section of Pest.” (118)


            “The revisionist Hungarian emigrants condemned Zinner’s book” (Szemle, 1963.1)  Here, under the signature of T.R.F., it is written that the mountain gave birth to a mouse.  The writer might as well have written that a rat gave birth to a mouse.


            These opinions about the Freedom Fight are as lukewarm as the people who wrote them.  They, too, know the truth about what happened in Budapest in 1956 but they are afraid of it.  They are either afraid to write the truth or they do not want to because it is not acceptable to the political line which they represent.  This applies to the Hungarian publishers as well as to the emigrant writers and, naturally, to the Western Communist writers.  These writers never even asked the Freedom Fighters what took place in Hungary in 1956 because it was not important to them.  If some of them did ask, they distorted the information and they omitted the most important facts.


            Many people came out from their cellars to grab the first chance to leave the country.  Many of these became Freedom Fighters in the Free World and they gave themselves the right to destroy the honor and sully the memory of those who freely sacrificed their lives for their country.  At the same time, purposely, or because of limited knowledge, party politics or material gains, or because they enjoyed the publicity, they reversed the ideals of the Revolution.  Those ideals united the Hungarian people and gave them a feeling of unity that they had never before experienced in the course of their history, which caused the whole world to wonder and which gave an example to the freedom loving nations.


            I can better understand the writers of the Kádár regime because they are allowed to write only what the regime permits, the regime which was established in Hungary on November 4, 1956 by the Russian forces and which is still, today,[30] supported by Russian tanks.  The Communist regime creates statistical data about the political and moral composition of the Freedom Fighters.  According to Ervin Hollos: “The Práter Street group had grown to 600-700 revolutionaries by November 3.  We know 370 of them, 40% of whom are several times condemned criminals.” (120)


            Molnár treats this subject in detail.  He writes: “Among the commanders of Corvin Circle, there were two members of the Nyilás (Nazi) Party, four or five were well-known officers of the Horthy regime and another was a volunteer of the “ragged guard” in 1944. (The Pongrátz boys are sons of a Supreme Court Judge.)” (121)


            These facts, which are full of mistakes, these distorted and fabricated statements, were a good base for the writings which appeared in the West with the purpose of misleading the public about the Revolution.


            The writings of Hollos, Molnár, the White Book , and those of the Communist Party propagandists in Hungary and in the West achieved their goal.  They managed to present the Revolution as they wanted to, so that the people would believe in them.  Future historians have serious work ahead of them and will need to make a great effort to unravel the truth from the Gordian knot.  The Propagandists know no boundaries. The White Book writes: 


            “The Corvinists saw that the Government was not serious about enforcing Martial Law, so their strength was renewed.  They quickly realized that Imre Nagy, whose Government the Corvinists did not at first acknowledge, was supporting them.  He did not allow Martial Law to be enforced.  Therefore, without risk of punishment, it was possible to obtain arms and use them.  That was the first decisive help, for which the Corvinists can thank the Government of Imre Nagy.  It is worthy of note that, on that day, Maléter arrived at the Kilián Barracks in a tank.  With a few tanks, Maléter could have dispersed the Corvin band of rowdies quite easily but, it is well-known, he did the opposite.  He made an alliance with the Corvinists.  This support from Maléter was the second reason for the renewed strength of the Corvinists.” (122)


            The White Book places the above incident on October 25.  Maléter really came on that day and tried to disperse the “Corvin band of rowdies”.  In the early afternoon of  October 27, he caused us serious losses which the propagandists of the Hungarian People’s Republic, those who wrote the White Book, know very well.  Moreover, they also know that the Soviet Comrades also tried to disperse the “Corvin band of rowdies”, not only with a few but with a lot of tanks.  Most of them remained there, burned out in Corvin Circle.  However, the revolutionaries were driven by the love of their country.  If Maléter and the officers and commanders of the Hungarian People’s Army had joined the Revolution on October 25, then the Revolution would have had trained officers, not only those driven by the love of their country.   Then, maybe, the White Book would have been written in Moscow.  Those officers and generals who, after October 28, joined with the revolutionaries after the government announcement and the cease-fire, did that so that their careers would be secure in the new Hungarian Army.  This is proven by the fact that, after November 4, when the Russians sent five thousand tanks and two hundred thousand Russian soldiers into Budapest, the revolutionaries were left on their own again.  The officers and generals moved out.  In Corvin Circle (with the exception of Chubby, who had been with us since October 25, as a doctor and a lieutenant), only one second-lieutenant and one captain remained.  They were both intelligence officers.  If the Hungarian Army officers and generals had any merit, it was only that some of them refused to fight against us.  (According to my information, Lieutenant-Colonel János Solymosi, the commander of the tank unit of Piliscsaba, was executed because he refused to fight against us.)


            Maléter claimed that he was just a soldier and that he was just doing his duty.  However, on the afternoon of October 27, he hung out a white flag in a window of the Kilián Barracks, which could only mean a cease-fire.  With this act, he did not become a Freedom Fighter.  That is proven by his meeting with my brother, Ödön, on the same evening, in his conversation with me on the morning of the 28th., and, moreover, by his behavior during the negotiations, his opinion of the Freedom Fighters and his trust in his Communist Russian comrades.  The fact that Imre Nagy, Zoltán Tildy and Zoltán Vas, who were the inseparable friends of Maléter, nominated him to be Deputy Defense Minister and later, Defense Minister, does not mean that Maléter sympathized with us.  On November 3, Imre Nagy reinstated János Kádár to the post of Minister of State, after Kádár had gone to the Russians and betrayed us. (123)  Again, he betrayed his best friend Imre Nagy, who trusted him.  With this act, he became the lowest traitor in Hungarian history.


            In the White Book, we have information about the arrest of Maléter:


            “Contrary to all rumors, Pál Maléter was arrested by the Hungarian authorities and not by the Soviet troops.  His arrest was ordered by the revolutionary worker-peasant government, not because Maléter wished to negotiate with the commanders of the Soviet Military units but because he broke his word, became a traitor and led an armed attack against the People’s Democratic State.” (124)


            It is interesting how many lies the propagandists of the Hungarian People’s Republic can introduce into such a short piece.


            First: The “Hungarian authorities” were, on November 3, the members of Imre Nagy’s Government and, as Defense Minister, Maléter himself was one of them.  Today we know that the arrest was made by General Szerov himself, who was the head of the Soviet Secret Police (KGB).  So what “Hungarian authorities” are they talking about?


            Second: “The revolutionary worker-peasant government”.  Who nominated this government and, more importantly, when?  On the evening of November 3, this puppet government did not even exist, so it could not have ordered the arrest of the revolutionary delegates.


            Third: It is possible that “Maléter wished to negotiate with the commanders of the Soviet military units” and he did so in good faith, because he went to negotiate with his Communist comrades, whom he trusted, contrary to my advice at our last meeting on the evening of November 3.  However, he did that on the personal instructions of Prime Minister Imre Nagy.  The negotiations, which had begun that morning in the Parliament, continued in Tököl ( a district of Budapest).  At the Soviet headquarters, the Russian generals Malinyin, Cserbarin and Sztyepanov could have stood up against anybody, in defense of the delegates of the Hungarian government, who were their guests, but they could not stand up against General Szerov.  If they had done so, they would have received the same fate as Maléter.


            Fourth: Could we have been the “People’s Democratic State”?  Maléter led armed attacks against no-one but us until the afternoon of October 27.  Therefore, they should have given him the highest decoration for this and not the rope.  He should also have received a decoration for the advice he gave me on the morning of October 28: “From now on you are opposing not only the Soviet Army but also the Hungarian Army.  Realize that this is the end for you.”  Yet he received the rope from them and we have to recognize him as a martyr!   He was executed as the Defense Minister of the Hungarian Revolution, not for his deeds but rather because of the position he occupied and his career.


            Fifth:  “. . . he broke his word, became a traitor. . . ”  Now, for the second time!  The first time he became a traitor was at the end of World War II., and, at that time, he received a decoration for breaking his word and for his treason.  The second time he broke his word, the same people hanged him, on a false accusation.  If Maléter betrayed anybody, he betrayed us and not the Russians.  Even so, he received the treatment from them which we would have liked to give him.  It makes one wonder . . .


            Not only the Hungarian propagandists but also the Communist agents abroad wish to present the behavior of the officers and commanders of the Hungarian People’s Army in a totally different light than would a true historian.  There were even some who, if they had listened to their hearts, would have liked to change sides, especially after the success of the Revolution, but their good sense spoke against this change.  In spite of the success of the Revolution, many of them were afraid and many of them even hoped that we would lose.  In those days, not only the military but also the political situation was changing from hour to hour.  Those who still could have made the change, listening to their reason, did not want to descend from their old horse yet, at the same time, they would gladly have jumped onto the new horse.  This is why, after the bloodshed of the Revolution, they fell between the two horses and survived, with prison sentences of various lengths to which they were sentenced by the People’s Court.  This same court sentenced youngsters to death by the hundreds, not even sparing the fourteen and fifteen year-old children.  We know that, in 1959 and 1960, they executed these children by the hundreds, boys and girls alike, who had to wait in prison until the age of eighteen to be “ripe for the rope”.  They were sentenced in 1957 and they knew that there would be no mercy because, day after day, they saw their comrades led from their cells by the executioners of János Kádár.  Kádár actually paved the way to his throne with the skulls of these youngsters and his throne is still held secure by the Russian bayonets.  On his conscience, if he has one, are not only Rajk, Maléter, Imre Nagy, Gimes and other famous people but also the boys and girls of Budapest, whose only crime was that they were patriots and whose memory was quickly forgotten.


            Sándor Magyar writes: “Recently, I received a letter from Budapest, from a reliable, serious man.  He wrote: ‘Again, they hanged two children, brother and sister.  They were twins, István and Éva Bodnár.’  The interesting part of the letter was not that they had again hanged two children, because they do that weekly, not two but ten at a time, but that the jailers themselves had asked Kádár for mercy for them.  Their father, who was a steelworker, also asked for mercy and their mother, who worked in a textile factory, claimed that the children were descendants of proletariats.  Maybe this was the very reason that there was no mercy for them.  At dawn on a December morning, in 1959, they were both hanged.  The scene was very touching.  The boy’s hair had become as white as snow in waiting the three years for his sure death.  The girl was braver, stronger.  The two children embraced each other, kissing and crying and the girl consoled her brother: ‘Don’t be afraid, death will not hurt, only life is bad.  People are evil.’  The boy cried, looked around, terrified, hoping for compassion and mercy but there was none.  The executioner and the jailer cast their eyes to the ground.  They did not even allow the priest to go to them, so that no news of their execution would leak out.  The girl bravely stepped up to the gallows and held up her long hair so that the executioner could put the rope around her white neck.  The officials who were present turned their  faces away.  They were hardened Communists but still human.  The following day, the father and mother were also dead.  They had turned on the gas.  They had caused the death of their children because, when the children had wanted to leave for Austria with the other fugitives, the parents were so afraid for them that they would not let them go.  The father was a Communist and he said that Rákosi had left and that with Kádár, a better life would follow.  The mistake of the father caused the unfortunate tragedy, the death of the whole family.” (125)


            Twenty five years after the Revolution,[31] in Hungary and abroad, the opinions of all the Hungarians are interestingly divided.  There is no question that the fate of the nation, the standard of living, has become considerably better than it was before the Revolution.  The tourists who come from Hungary to the West attribute these benefits to the Revolution, and that reflects the opinion of the entire nation.  Hungarian tourists go not only to the West but also to the other Iron Curtain countries, and they can see the difference between the standard of living in these countries and in Hungary.  They know that if there had not been a Revolution and Freedom Fight in Hungary in 1956, the fate of the nation in Hungary would be no different than that of Rumania or Poland.  This is proven by the events of 1981-82 in Poland.[32]  Although the Russians crushed the successful Revolution, after a horrible campaign of revenge they had to ease up finally for political reasons.  They had no other alternative because they knew that it is not possible to organize and prepare for a revolution.  Revolution breaks out when the people come to the conclusion that they can no longer live the way they have done in the past.


            The propagandists of János Kádár, however, want to make people believe, often successfully, not only in Hungary but in the western nations also, that the improvement in the life of the Hungarian nation is entirely due to the work of János Kádár.  Even the American television portrays him as a hero – that dictator with bloodstained hands, who was set onto the neck of the nation like a yoke by the Russian tanks which rolled in the blood of Hungarian patriots.  The nation’s improved standard of living is attributed to Kádár’s skillful politics.  They do not talk about the things that Kádár has done to show his gratitude toward the Russians.  He paid for his rise to power with several thousands of hangings, imprisonments, and deportation to Siberia of thousands of Hungarian patriots, who lost their lives or freedom because of him.  If anyone mentions these facts, he is labeled as reactionary, fascist and extreme right wing, by the agents of Kádár who have enormous political influence in the newspapers and the media of most of the western nations.


            This influence is so great that they were able to make the American President, Gerald Ford, forget the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight.  When Jimmy Carter was running for President, he asked Gerald Ford why he had signed the Helsinki Agreement.  Ford answered that he had done so because the Pope had signed it, and because the nations behind the Iron Curtain are free, independent and autonomous.  He was not re-elected as President.  His rival, Jimmy Carter, who harvested the votes of the Hungarian-Americans, Polish-Americans, Lithuanian-Americans and Americans from other Iron Curtain countries, became the new President.  He was not slow in thanking them for their wasted votes!  One year after his election, he chose November 4 to declare that he would return the Hungarian Crown to Hungary.  With this act, he not only acknowledged and sanctioned the Communist Government of János Kádár but also, at the same time, he indicated to the captive nations and to the American voters that they should not even have hope.  With the fact that, on November 4, the anniversary of the second Soviet intervention, he announced that he would send back the Holy Crown of Saint István, he slapped us Freedom Fighters in the face.  People expect more intelligence than that from the President of the United States.  What enormous political influence was needed to cause the American leaders, one after the other, to make such big mistakes!


            I must quote the words of Senator Dodd:

            “It would be an enormous help if we could convince the peoples of the captive nations that we have learned the lesson of the Hungarian Revolution.” (126)


            Have they learned?  Until now they have not.[33]  Until now they have given the spread of Communism a free passage. All this has happened with the acknowledgment, contributions and sometimes help of the American Foreign Ministry.








            After almost ten years, I have again taken up my pen to write about the events which have taken place since the first edition of my book was published.  I have plenty to say, not only to the readers but most of all to those historians who wish to write about the true history of the Revolution and the Freedom Fight.


            The last ten years have brought about enormous changes, not only to us Hungarians but to every country which was at one time Communist.  Ten years ago, I did not even dream that I would ever again be able to return home to Hungary.  Among those who were exiled, I do not believe that I was alone in thinking such thoughts.  Nobody would have imagined the changes which have taken place since 1989.  Nobody would have thought that the Great Power, the Soviet Union, which terrified the whole world, would have disintegrated in two years.  But this “wonder” actually happened.


            Since my book was published, many documents have appeared which have brought to the attention of the public, many of the things of which I wrote in my book. One such document was the diary of Captain Lajos Csiba, which related the account of the events in the Kilián Barracks.  As the commander of the Kilián Barracks until October 25, he was an eye-witness.  After that date, his superior, Colonel Maléter, took over the command. Not only was I forced to acknowledge Lajos Csiba’s statements dealing with the history of the Revolution, but even the “reform Communist” writers and historians were forced to acknowledge them because they are authentic and true. Although Csiba, in his diary defended Maléter and declared him to be a martyr, because the Kádár regime killed him, he very sincerely records facts which neither I nor my comrades knew, or could have known.


            Captain Lajos Csiba first published his diary in Brussels in 1960, in the Szemle, Issue No. 3.  Dr. Péter Gosztonyi totally falsified the entries from the diary under the title of  “DIARY OF THE BATTLE OF THE KILIÁN BARRACKS”.


            In 1989, in Chicago, István Harmath, published it for the second time, in the Szivárvány.  This was not the original text of the diary either but, if one concentrates one’s attention on the events of history, one cannot escape from the effect of the information of Lajos Csiba.  He brings such facts to light which prove the statements which I wrote in my book ten years ago, and gives even more proof!!!  In 1989, the memoirs of Colonel Miklós Szűcs were published which provide even more recent proofs.  On the advice of Imre Nagy, Szűcs became a member of the committee which included Pál Maléter, Ferenc Erdei, and István Kovács, which on the evening of  November 3, went to Tököl to the final negotiations for the Soviet Army’s withdrawal from Hungary.  These negotiations were taking place at a time when we had exact information that, in the first three days of November, another 3000 tanks and 200,000 Russian soldiers had entered Hungary, and were waiting to attack.  My advice was in vain. (See page .... of book) Colonel Miklós Szűcs, writes in his book (Page 86-87):


   “At that time, the Generals and officers of the Ministry believed, to the best of their knowledge, that the commanders of the higher units and troops, until October 28, obeyed the orders of the Government and the Army Chiefs- of-Staff except for Maléter.  The troops many times started an armed intervention against the revolutionaries, independently, on the orders of their leaders or on their own initiative.  As a result of these armed interventions, many officers and regular soldiers were injured or killed. The officers of these groups were Colonel István Polák, Lieutenant-Colonel Ede Szentesi, Lieutenant-Colonel István Oravecz, Major József Nagy and others  whose names I have since forgotten, after 30 years. For this, I apologize.  From the Army general staff, from the Ministry, and from the military group commanders, other generals and officers were appointed, like Brigadier-General Mihály Horváth, Brigadier-General Imre Kovács, Colonel István Trepper, Colonel Tivadar Lázár who, for days without sleep, worked, organized, gave commands and supervised and helped our work.

            “The Hungarian army units which were stationed in Budapest, received some reinforcements from Kiskunhálas (the 37th. Fusilier Regiment under the leadership of  Colonel Imre Hodosán).  The regiment was able to come through Pesterzsébet to the János Kiss Barracks, located on Üllő Avenue, only after engaging in heavy fighting.  During the battles, because the commanders and the officers were excellently trained, they suffered insignificant losses.  At the same time, several dozen revolutionaries were disabled and captured and many arms were confiscated, along with much ammunition.  Two days after their arrival, smaller units of this regiment cleared the ninth district of Csepel of revolutionaries.”


            The Hungarian television program “Kronikák” broadcast a French-Hungarian documentary on January 20, 1922, on TV - 1 at 21:45h., where I found further historic data.  On the command of Colonel Imre Hodosán, beside the railway wagons, nine prisoners were shot.  Eight of them died but a sixteen year-old apprentice, wearing his black apprentice uniform, survived with three bullets in his body.  He fled to France and only returned to Hungary in 1991.  He met his executioner, the “Hungarian soldier” who had pulled the trigger on him.  He left him with much bitterness and did not even spit on him.


            Szücs names a few high ranking officers and generals who helped “our responsible work.”  His first three sentences enlighten us about the activities of the Hungarian People’s Army during the Revolution.  It proves that the boys and girls of Budapest were fighting not only the AVH and the Soviets but their own Army too and we learned that “many officers  and regular soldiers were injured and killed” in the war against the youths of Budapest.  How many such soldiers were honored in 1991?  I know a few of them myself.  Szücs continues (p.89-90):


             “In those days, in unison with the Soviet military operations staff, (cadre) we came to the conclusion that the time had come to begin a centralized attack against the focal points of the revolutionaries and finally break them down.  First we planned an attack against the strongest center, Corvin Circle.

            “On the evening of October 27, the Soviet Colonel Hromcov, my army advisor, told me that the Minister of Defense and the Soviet Commanders in the Ministry, with the acknowledgment of Imre Nagy, had ordered the Hungarian and Soviet armies to launch an attack against the Corvin Circle revolutionaries and the Prime Minister decided that he would entrust me with the coordination of the action.   I was told the same thing by the Defense Minister. I received orders that at 4 o’clock in the morning, I was to go to meet the Soviet regiment at the Marketplace at Tolbuhin Boulevard. I would be informed of the exact place by my Soviet advisor.  At dawn on October 28, I started out by car to the meeting place. I parked the car at a store on Váci Street, at the upper end of Tolbuhin Boulevard.

            “I was informed of the plan of action by the regiment commander.  He informed me that the Hungarian marksmen were mainly made up of students of the Military Academy. At 7 o’clock in the morning, with the support of the Soviet tanks and artillery, we would make a unified attack from two directions, from Nagyvárad Square and from University Square, to destroy the center of the Corvin armed forces.  The commanders of the two groups had already received their orders.  So that this would be a unified attack, the commanders of the tank unit and the artillery unit had also received their orders.  So I learned that they did not need me for the coordination of the attack.  The Commander of the Soviet unit received information from his superiors that, during the action, the representatives of the Hungarian Chiefs-of-Staff would be present in the Soviet unit. 

            “As it is, my role would have been just a passive one because the Russians had already completed the organization and I had no means of communication, radio or telephone, in my possession.  Therefore I decided that I would stay beside the commander of the group who would attack Corvin Circle from the direction of University Square. 

            “At 7 o’clock in the morning, both groups started their advance.  Pretty soon they found themselves in a tremendous crossfire which made it impossible to move forward.  From the windows of the upper stories of the buildings, with machine-gunfire, the revolutionaries closed the road and prevented us from advancing.  The armored cars which were on the front line were disabled. Therefore the attack stopped. More exactly, the Soviets stopped advancing because they wanted to avoid unnecessary bloodshed.

            “I went to the Division Commander who informed me that, without an air attack, they could not complete this mission, therefore they had already requested support from the air.  Approximately an hour later, the Division Commander informed me that the Hungarian Government, Prime Minister Imre Nagy in person, would not allow us to use planes for bombing, to accomplish our goal, because this would cause a lot of deaths among the civilians.  Therefore the action was stopped.  I went back to the Chiefs-of-Staff and reported the events.  As I learned later, the Minister and the Russian unit led by General Malinyin already knew of the decision and agreed with it.”


            I believe this text needs no explanation.  It proves that there was a Hungarian-Soviet combined attack against Corvin Circle, which the Corvinists successfully repelled.


            Miklós Szücs writes on pages 93-95 of his book:

             “The Szabad Nép, the official newspaper of the Hungarian Workers’ Party, on October 28, published a front-page article, about the events which took place earlier and here they reported that what happened in Hungary, and is still happening, is not a counter-revolution but a national democratic movement which was started by the workers, the intelligentsia, the students and the youths.  Among those who started this action and the leaders, there are a lot of Communists.

            “At the Assembly of the Party Central Leadership, on October 28, all agreed with the opinion written in the paper.  Around noon, the Kossuth Radio announced that the Government had ordered a general cease-fire.  In the early evening hours, Imre Nagy and János Kádár spoke on the radio.  This movement, which earlier the Government had called a counter-revolution, they both now called a democratic movement which was embracing all the Hungarian people.  They announced that a new special armed force would be formed from the Army and the Police Force.  The Soviet Army would leave Budapest, the AVH would be dissolved and a new State Police would be established.  The speeches or declarations quoted in the above-mentioned article in the Szabad Nép demoralized the Army.  The majority of the Army staff of officers, who had earlier fulfilled the demands to lead with honor, now became completely uncertain.  I can state that they even became disunited.  If it was not a counter-revolution which had taken place until now – although the Party and the government which five days earlier had called upon the Army to fight against the counter-revolution, on the 28th declared these same events to be a revolution – then those who up till now were shooting or gave orders to shoot the revolutionaries, were the enemies of the people or the enemies of the Revolution.  There were many people who used this same logic and tried to compensate for the crimes which they had committed earlier against the people.  Some listened to the voice of their  conscience.  And others – unfortunately there were not just a few of them – did it for their career.”


            Among the many examples, I quote one case.  Naturally, historians are needed to clarify this also.  Miklós Szücs writes the following on pp. 128, 129:


            “I have to talk in detail of Mecséri.  He was the son of workers, known by everyone in the army as a very talented, young field-officer.  When he  heard of the events in Budapest, on October 23, 1956, on the radio, he ordered an alert, closed the roads into and out of Esztergom and would not allow anybody in or out of the city.  On October 25, a group of young armed youths intended to go from Esztergom to Budapest by truck.  When this truck was about to leave the city, Colonel Mecséri was there.  His soldiers ordered the truck to stop and turn back.  The revolutionaries started to swear at the soldiers with loud voices.  Mecséri, in person, tried to convince the youths to turn back and not to attempt to leave the city.  He said that if they did not do so, he would have to fire at them.  The driver of the truck disregarded the Colonel’s advice, drove around the truck which was barring the road, and tried to leave the city.  Then Mecséri ordered the soldiers to fire at the truck which became disabled and several of the youths were injured. 

            “After October 28, 1956, when the Party and the Government declared these events to be a Revolution, Mecséri could no longer stay in Esztergom.  The revolutionaries demanded his head. 

            “Mecséri – whose commander, a few years earlier was Maléter – came to Budapest and reported to Maléter, who was the Deputy Defense Minister and offered him his service.  Mecséri acted correctly according to the orders of Maléter.   He tried to compensate for the crimes he had committed in Esztergom against the Revolution.  This is why, on November 4,  he ordered his men to fire on the Soviets.”


            The result of Mecséri ordering his men to fire on the Soviets at Esztergom was not, as was quoted, that there were many injured youth.  The full truth is that there were 7 dead and about 15 injured.  So didn’t Mecséri, with this action, sanction his own execution, from whichever side we look at this question?


            “The final decision of the most loyal Communists of the regime came when the Communist Party was dissolved on October 31. (About 80-85% of the officers of the Army were members of the Communist Party.)  The decision was announced on the radio by János Kádár, the Chief Secretary of the Hungarian Workers’ Party.  The dissolution of the Communist Party meant that the members of the Hungarian Workers’ Party were responsible for the Revolution.  Many former Communists hid or tried to find refuge with acquaintances.  Many tried to flee abroad or sought refuge among the Russian Army troops.  Many camouflaged their deeds by changing sides.  In this critical situation, the authors of the studies which deal with the 1956 Revolution were until now strictly blaming Imre Nagy for the dissolution of the Party but the Party had a Central Leadership, a Political Committee and from October 28, a Party Presidency of six members.  In all these organizations, the followers of Imre Nagy were everywhere in a significant minority.  How was a minority able to impose its will on the majority?”


            According to those generals and field-officers who, on the evening of October 27 and the morning of October 28, were on our side, who sensed that the Revolution would be successful, they joined us not because of the ideals of the Revolution but in the interest of their own careers.  If this were so, then for the last 35 years, they have misled even me and their two-faced behavior proves this.  Miklós Szűcs gives us a character portrait of himself on page 127 of his book: 


            “The sergeant led me to Malinyin’s unit.  There that young colonel, the officer of Malinyin, who accompanied Malinyin to Budapest from Moscow, with whom I worked in the early days in the building of the Army Chiefs-of-Staff, told me that the Soviet Army would march into Budapest at dawn.  He put in front of me the map of Budapest and he asked me to inform him where he could expect considerable armed opposition.  When I heard the request, it wounded my self-respect and I felt disgust for the enemy.  However, I realized my responsibility toward the goal and I gave him detailed information.”


So in a detailed manner he circled those segments on the map where they could expect “considerable armed opposition”.  This was done by a colonel of the Chiefs-of-Staff of the Hungarian People’s Army, whose duty was to negotiate the withdrawal of the Soviet Army from Hungary.  Miklós Szücs writes on page 96 of his book:


            “Everybody was worried about his position in the Political Committee, the Central Leadership, the Ministry, the Party and Army leadership and in the Party Headquarters.  These functionaries, in whom the people of the country and the party members placed their trust, these careerists, all sank to the level of flunkies.  By mentioning this, I would like to express the mood which was prevalent among the high-ranking army officers in 1956. 

            “Between October 23 and October 28, 1956, while the leadership of the Party and the State talked of counter-revolution, only a few young officers from the Hungarian Army and, among the leaders, only Maléter, went to the side of the Revolution but even he did not go openly.  On October 28, when the highest Party leaders declared that this was a Revolution, some of the Army generals and high-ranking officers immediately changed sides.  According to their usual methods, they changed their attitude toward their new situation, in compliance with the orders from above.  The attitude of these men was contrary to their own interest but they did not recognize this because they did not have enough time.  They thought that they had to act fast to secure their place in the new administration.”


            Colonel Miklós Szücs of the Army Chiefs-of Staff states that, in 1956, the “high-ranking officers” of the Hungarian Army were dishonorable men and I agree with him.  The “new Hungarian Government” awarded these characterless, high-ranking officers and generals with promotions.  Until October 28, many of them were firing at us, the youths of Budapest.


            If we look around the country in the spring of 1992, we see some very sad pictures.  It is true that, since 1956, many changes have taken place and this is partly due to the new Hungarian Government.  The Russians went home.  The Warsaw Pact dissolved and the K.G.S.T. (Kölcsönös Gazdasági Segitség Tanácsa) or COMECON (Council for Mutual Economic Aid) announced that, on October 23, 1989, Hungary became a Republic.  At this announcement the whole nation rejoiced.  But now, on October 23, they remember not the anniversary of the Revolution but they celebrate the establishment of the Republic.  This is even marked on the calendars.  They have turned away the attention from the Revolution!  On June 16, 1989, the Communist leaders were remembered in the Second Burial[34] but my comrades were almost completely forgotten!  An empty coffin represented the almost 400 known martyred revolutionaries like Uncle Szabó, Kemál Ekrem, József Dudás, István Angyal, László Nickelsburg, and the other revolutionaries and their commanders.  Their names were mentioned but only on the list of those who were executed.  Among the six coffins, only two were buried in Plot 301 at the cemetery where my comrades dream their everlasting dreams of a happier and better Hungary.  With the empty coffin, the Reform Communists intended to bury the Revolution forever.  Imre Nagy, the Prime Minister of the Revolution was also buried there thanks to the stubborn perseverance of his daughter, Erzsébet Nagy. The other four coffins were buried in Plot 300, separated from my comrades.  This would be all right except for the  disgusting fact that every official remembrance takes place in Plot 300, with great pomp and ceremony, with the representatives of the Government and a huge throng of people.  The T.I.B. (Történelmi Igazságtétel Bizottság) (Historical Truth Committee) organizes this memorial celebration in Plot 300.  They make sure that the two plots are separated by a rope.  On October 23, 1990, the people lifted up this rope and György Lassan, who was the Commander of the Práter Street School, put our wreaths on the graves of Imre Nagy and the grave with the empty coffin.  We took our wreaths into Plot 301, at which the crowd turned their backs on Plot 301, because of the way the T.I.B. organized the celebration.  


            The duty of the T.I.B., indicated by its name, should be to research and publicize the truth but it does exactly the opposite.  It is not even willing to consider the already known documents.  It prefers to keep silent about them.  On the 35th. Anniversary of the Revolution, historian György Litván edited a book which, even now, tries to prove that the Revolution was prepared and carried out by the Reform Communists.  The  title of the book is: Az 1956 magyar forradalom történelmi olvasókönyv középiskolásoknak, Tankönyv Kiadó, Budapest, 1991 (The Reading Book of the History of the Revolution  for High School Students).  It is interesting that, in this book, on page 189, he calls my book, Corvin Köz, 1956 : “the subjective account of the memories of the Commander of Corvin Circle”.  It is true that, when I wrote about my comrades, I had to be subjective. I could not be otherwise.  I recorded the historical events objectively and “official historians” have not been able to deny the authenticity of my chronicle.  However, they still do not want to acknowledge that the Hungarian people, in 1956, did not intend to reform Communism but wanted to get rid of every trace of it.  They still do not want to acknowledge that the Revolution was prepared by the merciless Communist regime between 1945 and 1956, which they wholeheartedly supported!


            I can state that, with a clear conscience that, that was not what we bargained for.  In 1956, my comrades did not sacrifice their lives to reinstate Communism and the regime which followed.


            Miklós Szűcs writes on p. 117 of his book, mentioning the diary of Lajos Csiba:

              “The diary, by all means, places Maléter’s behavior in a different light after 1956 and, states that Maléter, on November 2, at the dinner at the Kilián Barracks, spoke sincerely, when he announced to Kovács and to me: ‘I am a supporter of the Socialist regime.  I did not shoot and did not order anyone else to shoot and I am unwilling to shoot, or order anybody else to shoot at the Soviet troops, because I am actually thankful to them for my life and my whole army career.’”


            In my opinion, this statement of Maléter’s was not motivated by the fact that he was speaking to two Communist officers – the Commander of the Army Chiefs-of-Staff and the leader of the Military Operations.  One of them was Brigadier-General Kovács, who at one time was a Soviet partisan like Maléter.  It was rather motivated by the fact that Zoltán Vas, who was at one time his partisan superior, suggested that Imre Nagy nominate him to be Deputy Defense Minister and later Defense Minister and therefore it was clear to him that his life depended on the politics and fate of Imre Nagy!!!


            Moreover, Áron Tóbiás, in his book: In Memoriam Nagy Imre, Szsabadtér Kiadó, 1989, quotes from the diary of V. Micsunovics, which was written after the meeting of  Khrushchev and Malenkov in Brion, on November 3, 1956.  On page 312 of this book, we can read:


            “If we have to decide between Kádár and Münnich, we must not forget an important difference between them.  Under Rákosi, Münnich was the Hungarian Ambassador to Moscow and Kádár was in prison in Budapest.  This fact is favorable to Kádár in the eyes of the Hungarians.  Khrushchev agreed with me.  There was talk about other Hungarian Communists as candidates for President.  Khrushchev stubbornly intended to save Antal Apró.  We mentioned Losonczy, who in our opinion is an honorable and capable man.  Khrushchev and Malenkov showed reluctance to support him.  Later, we found out that the Russians knew that Losonczy had connections with us, the supporters of Imre Nagy, and therefore they were suspicious of him.  Somebody nominated Colonel Maléter, the leader of the delegation to the negotiations for the Russian withdrawal from Hungary.  From the point of view of the Yugoslavs, we knew nothing of Maléter.  We had no information about him.  Khrushchev and Malenkov were silent about him, yet they knew him.”


            So, according to this, Maléter’s name was brought up when the decision was to take place as to who would be the head of the new Hungarian Government.


            In the memoirs of V. Micsunovics we read that, on December 21, 1956: “Three days earlier, Charles Bohlen, the United States Ambassador, had supper with me.  We talked long about the recent events. . .”    . . .Bohlen did not say much about Hungary except for what the West was able to do to help resolve the Hungarian question.  Nothing would happen no matter what the Russians did in Hungary.  Hungary belonged to Russia forever. . . !!!


            According to this, America sold Hungary!  This is proven not only by those two telegrams which the American Foreign Ministry sent on October 29 and November 2,  but also by the statement of Charles Bohlen.  In the fall of 1989, when Boris Yeltsin came to America for the first time, he declared the following on American T.V.: “The downfall of Communism started in Budapest in 1956.” 


            In 1956, the youths of Hungary shaped not only Hungarian history but World history.  This means that the populace of all the former Communist countries can thank the youths of Budapest for the changes in their countries. 


            According the announcement of Boris Yeltsin, we can say that the Cold War was won by the youths of Budapest in 1956, for the benefit of the Free West because this Cold War was hot only in Hungary.  Here the guns were firing and here my comrades died!


            I am not asking for justice, because we will never get it anyway but the injustice is so obvious that I cannot avoid mentioning it.  What did we Freedom Fighters get in “appreciation” from America for making them the only great power in the world?  Between 1956 and 1957, America accepted 38,000 Hungarian refugees.  We are grateful for this and we thank America.  But for this there was a big price, which came to light in 1991.  The Government of the United States, with our knowledge but not with our acknowledgment, collected this price.  In September of 1991, I received a copy of the agreement signed on March 6, 1973 by William P. Rogers, American Secretary of State and Peter Vályi, the Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister, in the name of the United States and the Hungarian People’s Republic.  I will  quote just a few segments of this agreement:

 “1.  Par. (1) The Government of the Hungarian People’s Republic agrees that they will pay, and the Government of the United States agrees that they will accept 18,900,000 dollars, at a flat rate, in dollars.  All existing claims by the Government of the United States and their citizens against the Government of the Hungarian People’s Republic and its citizens will thereby be finally paid.

“2. According to the agreement in Par. 1., the Hungarian Government agrees to pay the claims of the Government of the United States and the claims of its citizens for:

(1) the property, rights, and enterprises which the (Communist) Hungarian Government took under State Control,  except for those which are presently  in the possession of the United States.  All this is to be paid for the period until the date this agreement is signed!!!

(2)  The contractual obligation, which was to be paid in American legal tender or other rights, which the American citizens obtained before September 1, 1939, became payable on September 15, 1947. 

(3)  According to the Peace Treaty between the Hungarian People’s Republic and the United States, signed on February 10, 1947, in par. 26 and 27, this obligation of the Hungarian People’s Republic was already stipulated.

(4)  A note which the Government of the United States sent to the Government of the Hungarian People’s Republic on December 10, 1952 reminded the Government of the here-mentioned losses.” (One part of a separate note:  “ The Government of the United States, out of the paid flat rate, reserved 125,000 dollars to pay for the 1951 air incidents.”) etc.


            Let us analyze this agreement.

            The Government of the United States and the Government of the Hungarian People’s Republic agreed to the sum mentioned in Par. 2 and the Note No. 4. as the amount of the debt.  The total was 18,900,000 dollars which Hungary had to pay.  In this sum was included the properties which the Hungarian Government took from those who fled before the date of the agreement and became American citizens.  These fugitives were of course not paid, so the Government took the money and became the receiver of stolen goods.  This is still an open question today, which someone needs to research.  The solution should be simple!  The value of the goods  is not specified, which according to the agreement came into the possession of the United States.  However, since March 6, 1973, we calculate the interest on this, it will be obviously higher than the debt of the nation.  “Somebody” should make a new agreement with the Government of the United States, according to which the interest would pay the remainder of the Hungarian National Debt and the Hungarian State would be obliged to recompense those people who suffered losses, i.e. those who request it.  This solution would not only be honorable  but also legal  and would be a political and economical solution to the sad Hungarian situation.  And we Hungarians would be able to close our mouths!

            If we look at the situation in Hungary in the spring of 1992, we will see some depressing sights.  The economical situation instead of getting better is getting worse from day to day.  Firstly this is caused by political reasons.  That man who has been well-fed does not think about those who are starving.  If someone complains that he is hungry, the well-fed man does not feel his pain therefore he is not able to understand the problems of the hungry man.  Those who reach their goals become the members of the “new freely-elected” government and get into the parliament and bring in new laws.  They are well fed and soon forget their campaign promises.

            In March of 1990, when after almost 34 years of emigration, I first came home to Hungary, I was driven by only one goal – to unify those parties and organizations whose ideals were based on the ideals of 1956. I was successful in calling a meeting of the leaders of seven parties and organizations who ended the meeting with a unified declaration.  We signed this declaration  as the “56 Association”.

            During the 1994 election campaign, most of the parties referred to 1956.  They held their party assemblies in the Corvin Cinema and they promised to fulfill the ideals of the Revolution.  However, I see now that most of the party leaders and politicians, who “established” themselves, made compromises with the leaders of the old regime in the interest of their own political careers, which did not help the nation but served the interest of the Communist aristocracy.  The Government changed but the regime remained the same.  The Communist Party functionaries became the new Hungarian Capitalists.  The killers, the mass murderers who sent thousands of my comrades to the gallows or into prisons or Soviet hard-labor camps; those thieves who were the usurpers of power and who stole the treasures of the nation, live today on high paying-pensions as if no change had taken place in the country.  The system of justice is still in the hands of the former Communists.  The lawyers and judges who imposed the death sentences, all enjoy a good pension or are buried in luxurious graves.  They gave their places to their successors. 

            The new government appointed, to the position of the highest attorney, a person who was a member of the Communist Party for 26 years whose opinion is that those killings which took place under Kádár, were not, at that time, against the law.  Therefore, we cannot make them responsible.  There are others who state that we cannot make a just recompense without causing a loss to someone else.  Whose losses are the new Hungarian members of parliament worried about?  My sixteen year-old Corvinist comrade was sentenced to twelve years in prison and all his belongings were confiscated, no matter where they were.  His identification card which was published in March 1990, states this.  According to this the members of parliament intend to avoid causing losses to those who sentenced these youngsters by the hundreds.  They are worried for their own descendants or in many cases even worried for themselves.  But naturally they do not want to return the goods which they have stolen from the Hungarian people, their fathers, uncles or far away relatives! 

            Since the new Hungarian Government has been changed by a democratic election, we have been waiting for almost two years for this situation to change.  We have been waiting and expecting the new government to make these criminals responsible for their actions and give acknowledgment to the Youths of Pest.  We waited and expected the new leaders to enforce the victory of the Revolution because among them, many suffered in the prisons of Kádár.  Now I can see the results of the compromises and I can see that this will not happen.  It is obvious that the leaders of the old regime had such a huge influence on the Government that, even if the Government would like to, they would not be able to do anything in our interest.


            At the end of October, 1991, the Hungarian television made a documentary about Comrade Gyula Szőnyi’s 13 square meter basement room.  I told them that in 1957, when they captured Gyula Szőnyi an AVH man moved into his house and is still living there.  When Gyula was freed in 1971, they gave him this basement room.  We do not want to have this AVH man hanged or put into prison (there is no blood on his hands) but we rightfully expect that the “new regime” should give back to Gyula Szőnyi his former home, and the AVH man should move into the 13 square meter basement room.  Gyula Szőnyi should receive the retirement pension of the AVH man and the AVH man should live on the pension of Gyula Szőnyi.  This was published on the TV on the so-called A-HÉT program.  But it was in vain.  There was no change.  Like many other questions this was like water off a duck’s back.





            The diary of Lajos Csiba appeared in the Szivárvány, in Chicago in 1988, (IX. No. 26)  The diary serves as a document of Maléter’s activities during the Revolution.  I am going to quote those segments of the diary which interest me as a Freedom Fighter and which prove the statements which I wrote in my book in 1982.  In the introduction,  István Harmath writes: “Diary of the events of 1956, in the Kilián Barracks.  Since the publication of Gergely Pongrátz’ book, Corvin Köz, 1956, in 1982, the clarification of the situation between Corvin Circle and the Kilián Barracks is in the public interest.  For the same purpose, we quote from the diary of Lajos Csiba who records what took place in the Kilián Barracks.  Lajos Csiba, in the rank of Captain, was the Commander of the Kilián Barracks during the Revolution.  Today, he lives in Switzerland. 


“Evening of October 23:  One group of soldiers, approximately 200, left the barracks and joined the crowd on the street.  I tried to hold together those who remained in the barracks and stationed them in the back part of the building.  I could not stop the others from leaving because all the gates were wide open.  The soldiers who left were inmates of the forced labor camp and some of them joined the revolutionaries; some were led by curiosity and the rest went home to their families. 

“October 24:  Because we had no weapons left and I had to provide a minimal guard for the barracks, and the Defense Minister could not send arms, in the afternoon, we confiscated whatever weapons we could find, rifles, machine-guns, air-guns and ammunition, from the revolutionaries on the street.  With these, I was barely able to arm the guards of the barracks.  In the evening and during the night, we were involved in exchanging fire with the revolutionaries. Captain Szabó and First-Lieutenant Kollmann were at the main gate.  Captain Szabó and a soldier were injured.  They were taken to the hospital.  A few revolutionaries were captured and placed in the police-van to be taken to the police-station in the morning.’”


Therefore, on the morning of October 24, the war began between the army of the Kilián Barracks and the youths of Pest, which resulted in deaths, injuries and prisoners-of-war.


“October 25.  Thursday.  At dawn, from the side of the revolutionaries, the firing became more intense.  We continued to defend ourselves, as much as we were able with the weapons and ammunition which we had earlier confiscated from the revolutionaries.  In the morning, I called the  Ministry of Defense, to ask for help from the officer on duty who, at that time, happened to be Colonel Maléter.  He was the Commander of the Technical Corps.  Actually, he was my direct superior.  He promised help and he ordered me not to give up.  Around nine o’clock, he informed me that he would send tanks and he ordered me to organize a line of riflemen to cover them when they arrived.  I kept up telephone contact with Major Kindlovics at the Ministry of Defense, who agreed to send us a unit of riflemen from the artillery of the Kossuth Academy, who would bring some machine-guns if they could. 

            “I related all this to the Commander of the Kossuth Academy.  These units, which we were waiting for, were unable to reach the barracks because of the crowd which somewhere along the way held them back.  We were expecting them to come from the direction of Tűzoltó Street, and we were ready to cover them with machine-gunfire. 

            “Around ten o’clock, Maléter arrived with tanks.  He backed up into the main gate in one of the tanks.  The tank could not come in because the gate was not wide enough.  The rest of the tanks placed themselves around the barracks.  The tank which was stuck in the gate, was firing at the house on the opposite side of the street, from which the revolutionaries were shooting.  From the windows of the barracks, we told the soldiers in the tank in which direction to shoot.  The tank remained in the gateway.  The other four disappeared without letting us know they were going.  Probably during the afternoon they went back to their unit.”


            I don’t have to add anything to this account.  It speaks for itself.  We learned from this diary, that Maléter, even before getting out of the tank, was shooting at us, and we learned that, from the windows of the barracks, he was receiving directions on where to shoot.


            “In the afternoon, a Soviet colonel called us on the phone from Bakáts Square, where there was probably a command-post.  Major Borbély and Captain Christen from the General Staff of the Hungarian Army were there.  We talked to them.  Maléter talked with the Russian colonel and I with the two Hungarian officers.  They asked us to describe the situation at Kilián.  We told them what was going on.”


This happened on October 26, which was the worst day for us for holding back the Soviet tanks.  By informing the Russians of the situation, they were not only spies but traitors.


            “Later, a Soviet commander called us again.  He asked us to allow them to move their injured soldiers and disarmed tanks from Üllö Avenue.  Maléter told them that they could come and get their injured but they would hardly be able to move their tanks because of the revolutionaries. (They provided a good natural barricade on the street.)  It would be better if Solymosi’s group would come on the Hungarian trains (and Lieutenant Kollmann and I would cover them from the windows of the barracks).  We even made arrangements with Major Solymosi to do this.  They started out but, in the meantime, it looked to me from the window, that the revolutionaries were barricading  Kör Avenue and maybe even putting down land mines.  Maybe they had already done this.  I notified Solymosi of the situation,  so they turned back.  The rest of the night, we relieved each other on guard duty.”


We sent the injured to the hospital.  The Russians picked up their dead with trucks.  We did not allow them to remove their destroyed tanks.  Because of that I had a heated argument with Béla Király, the Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard.


“October 27: In the afternoon Imre Nagy and the Minister of Defense, Janza, addressed the revolutionaries on the radio. . . ‘Those who are still fighting have dishonorable intentions because a large part of their demands have already been granted.  The Government of Imre Nagy will secure the rest if it is possible.’  They told them to lay down their arms.  This was announced at 18:00h. and 22:00h.  This was done with the purpose of dispelling the uncertainty in the right and left wings of the barracks, (where the workers’ hostel was located).  Maléter decided that he would confiscate or rather put under guard the weapons from the revolutionaries found there.  He fulfilled this plan with a patrol of ten men selected from the regiment at Csepel.  This was done on one side of Liliom Street. (The next morning they did the same thing on the other side.)  In this part I stationed some guards.”


During the Revolution, the Kilián Barracks was divided into three sections.  Only the middle section was used as Army barracks.  The two sides were used as a workers’ hostel.  According to Lajos Csiba, “these two sections were occupied by the revolutionaries who were shooting the Russians from there.”  This is why it was necessary for Maléter take them.


            “After that, Maléter called Solymosi, and only asked him for weapons.  Whatever else had to be done, he would do for himself.  We received a few from him, which were brought to us in an ambulance.”

            As far as I know, we never transported arms or ammunition in an ambulance. 


“October 28.  Sunday. At 8 o’clock in the morning, Maléter started out to go to Kör Avenue to confiscate the weapons from the revolutionaries there.  In the meantime, a Soviet commander, who was in the cellar, got scared and shot Captain Illés.  He did not know that he was not the one that Captain Illés was searching for.  He did not want to become a prisoner because he believed that the revolutionaries would hack him to pieces.  After that, a short exchange of fire took place with the revolutionaries and Lieutenant Kollmann was killed.  They captured four revolutionaries whom they put into the barracks prison.”


            This happened on the morning of October 28 in the exchange of fire between the revolutionaries and the “heroic soldiers” of Kilián, where a lieutenant and who knows how many revolutionaries died and were injured.  Thirty five or forty of our comrades were fighting on this territory but only the four prisoners were mentioned  and there was no mention of the others.  They probably all died in the exchange of fire.  It is interesting that  the speech of Imre Nagy on the radio, in which he announced the cease-fire, which acknowledged the victory of the Revolution, took place at one o’clock in the afternoon.  Therefore it is a false statement that Maléter was fighting against the revolutionaries for only one or two days.  The above quotation proves that, on the morning of October 28, my comrades were still being killed by the bullets of Maléter!  Where is the hero of Budapest???  Yet, already at that time, the Reform Communists started to build up Maléter as the leader of the Revolution.  The following quotation will prove that.

            “The radio stated that an envoy came from the Kilián Barracks, of whom we had no knowledge.  We did not send anybody anywhere.  I objected about that statement, first to the radio and then to the Army General Staff and finally to the officer on duty at the Defense Ministry.  Later, after the action on Kör Avenue, Maléter called the Minister of Defense to ask him to object too.”


            According to this, the two envoys from Corvin Circle, namely Attila Lehoczky and Jóska Fedor, both medical students, were presented by the radio as envoys from the Kilián Barracks.  Those responsible at the radio knew very well that these envoys came from Corvin Circle but, already on the morning of October 28, by presenting them from Kilián, they lumped Corvin and Kilián together. Here I wish to mention that, from the news that our two envoys gave Imre Nagy, he was able to see clearly that the Corvinists had made up their minds and were firm.  This influenced his decision to join the Revolution because,  as the Prime Minister of Hungary, he was looking for a solution to end the fighting. He had no other choice but to acknowledge the Revolution or the blood would continue to flow.  He had that much Hungarian honor. 


            “At around 1 o’clock in the afternoon, the Government ordered a cease-fire and ordered the Army to stay in position and to shoot only in self-defense.  They declared the revolutionaries to be patriots.  According to this, we were fighting against Hungarian patriots.  This created a new situation for us.  We set free the prisoners-of-war whom we had captured earlier.  There was a great shout of pleasure from the crowd which had gathered in the street.  They were celebrating the victory of the Revolution.”


            Around 1 o’clock in the afternoon of October 28, they came to the conclusion that “According to this, we were fighting against Hungarian patriots”.  Since the Revolution was victorious, you can imagine the opinion of the prisoners-of-war who had just been set free.

            “Around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, Maléter sent a message to the Commander-in-Chief of Corvin Circle (whom we found out later was Gergely Pongrátz) to come over to the barracks because he wished to talk to him.  He did not want to come over and he sent one of his officers to tell us that Maléter should come over to him at Corvin.  Maléter went over and he told them that the Government had declared a cease-fire and had announced that the Revolution was victorious.  This acknowledged the legality of the Revolution.  He tried to convince them to lay down their arms because they had accomplished what they had wanted to do.”

            I asked the Commander of the Guards, Szabó to bring Maléter to Corvin and to make sure that he was not harmed.  He still wanted to convince us to lay down our arms.

            “The news and the plan was that tomorrow, the Hungarian military vehicles would come to this territory to pick up the weapons of the revolutionaries.  In that general festive mood, it was believable that at least some of the revolutionaries or the majority of them, would give up their weapons to the Hungarian People’s Army.  It later became clear that this was only a naive belief.”

            Later, we found out that one of the commanders had come to an agreement with Maléter to give up his unit’s weapons, but that was just an individual decision.  Neither I nor my comrades considered giving up our weapons while a single Russian soldier remained in our homeland. 

“October 29.  In the afternoon, the newspaper reporters and cameramen came to the barracks.  They were writing articles and making films for the newspapers and the news.  The street was packed constantly with people and all of a sudden they started to cheer Maléter.  A few even came into the barracks as envoys.  They lifted Maléter onto their shoulders.  Here and there, could be heard calls for Maléter to become Defense Minister.  Maléter objected.  He said that he had a fist and he could fight but he could not conduct politics at such a high level.  Later on, we found a wreath of flowers on the barrel of the gun on the tank which was still in the main gate.   Somebody had painted the Kossuth emblem on the tank.  It was very touching.”

            The Communist propaganda was very effective.  It was prepared by experts.  They did not even miss the wreath on the tank.  They did not object to it. It was really touching, yet this gun was “only shooting at us”. The propagandists, already on October 29, brought to public knowledge, through the radio and the press, that “Maléter should be the Defense  Minister”.  So the “comrades” were the first to influence public opinion.

“October 30.  At about 7 o’clock in the evening, there was an announcement on the radio asking Maléter to telephone the number that they announced.  (I don’t remember the number.)  Maléter called that number and was told to go to the Parliament building.  Maléter asked that a car be sent to take him there because he had come to the barracks in a tank and because of the barricades inside the barracks, he could not leave in the tank.  First, they should remove the barricades so that he could come out.  This is what happened.  They sent a car for him and he was driven to the Parliament.  When he came back, a few hours later, he related that he had been negotiating with Imre Nagy.  He was to become the Deputy Defense Minister and tomorrow morning there would be a meeting in the barracks where they would form the Revolutionary Armed Forces Committee.  They were to find a suitable place for this meeting.”

“October 31.  A very heated argument broke out between Maléter and the Commander of Corvin Circle, Gergely Pongrátz.     The reason for the argument was Maléter’s attitude and behavior during the Revolution and that of the barracks towards the revolutionaries.  The reasons for Maléter’s statements to Gergely Pongrátz and for the behavior of the barracks during the Revolution were accepted by the majority of those present at the meeting.  Even Pongrátz acquiesced and the dispute ended.  Pongrátz threw into our faces that we were firing at them from the barracks and as a result many died or were injured and we captured a few of them and kept them in the barracks as prisoners-of-war.”

            The dispute was not ended.  From my part, it will end when Maléter is accepted in Hungarian history as a killer and he is taken down from the pedestal to which his Communist comrades elevated him.  If he had been judged on the basis of his actions during the Revolution, he would have received the same judgment as László Rajk, Pálffy, Össterreicher and the others who, in the interest of their own careers, soiled their hands with the blood of Hungarian patriots before they finally met their fate.  With their own actions they prepared their own death sentence.


“November 1.  At that time, the Kilián Barracks, which was in the middle of the fighting, had a good name among the civilians.  (We later paid dearly for this good name.)  I negotiated with the district advisor to remove the rubble from the ruined houses, and the torn-down electric cables of the streetcars from Üllö Avenue and Kör Avenue and generally clear the streets.   I also negotiated with Colonel Mecséri to remove the burned-out Soviet tanks.  All this started out well but, in the meantime, again especially in the afternoon, newspaper reporters and cameramen came to the barracks.  They were taking notes and making films as before and, in the late afternoon they were able to talk to Maléter, when he came home to the barracks.  (At that time, we lived in the barracks.)  I asked for National Guard identification cards from the Police Station, from Kopácsi and I gave these to the soldiers and officers in the barracks.”


It came out later, that the Communist newspaper reporters and propagandists, stole these good-sounding terms from the Corvinists.  No newspaper reporters or cameramen came into Corvin because we would not allow them in.  We were afraid that they might be spies.  The burned and destroyed Soviet tanks were not removed from the streets because we placed a guard at every tank, because we knew that there were additional Soviet forces coming into our country and we did not know their intentions.  If we had allowed them to remove these tanks they would have removed the best obstacles in the way of the Russians.  Finally, let us think about the fact that they gave out the National Guard identification cards to those soldiers and officers who had the blood of our comrades on their hands.


“November 2.  During the morning I talked on the telephone with an officer at the Police Headquarters.  I told him that I would send over to the Police Headquarters those men, whom the Corvinists took as fugitives or prisoners of war, and gave to us for safekeeping on October 29.  If they are found to be not guilty, they should be allowed to go home.

            “This is just how it happened.  Lieutenant Raffai escorted the prisoners, with a list of names, to the Police Headquarters where, as I later learned, all were set free that same day.  There was among them a police officer who always, when a shot rang out outside, believed that a prisoner had been shot to death.  He asked when it was his turn.  I had a hard time convincing him that he did not have to worry.  I guaranteed that he would not be shot.  I told him that I was a member of the same Party and an officer of the People’s Army.  How in God’s name could he think that I or any of us in the whole barracks would do such a thing?  I told him he was safer here than anywhere else.  I guaranteed that.  I noticed that he did not really believe me.  That was one of the signs that the news about the barracks, which could be heard in the city, was different than the real situation.

            “Maléter phoned me in the afternoon and told me that we were getting close to peace.  The negotiations were progressing well.  We should put up two more beds in our sleeping-quarters because, in the evening, two illustrious guests would accompany him to the barracks.   In the evening, he arrived with Brigadier General Kovács, Commander of the Army Chiefs of Staff and Colonel Szűcs.  If I remember clearly,  Colonel Szűcs was the Departmental Head of the Defense Ministry at that time.  They had supper and slept here in the barracks.  During supper, Brigadier-General Kovács announced that it was his opinion that only one dependable military base existed in the whole country and that was the Kilián Barracks. The re-establishment of the Socialist Order could and would be started here.  During the morning, Imre Nagy had promoted Maléter to Brigadier-General.  He did that as Prime Minister of the Government and in the name of the Presidential Council.  This promotion was due for Maléter.  The events only precipitated this promotion.  The night passed peacefully.”


            I mention these three paragraphs purely out of interest.  It is not important but it is interesting that our prisoners, whom we had kept in the Kilián Barracks, had been set free without our permission or acknowledgment.  The fact that, “the news about the barracks (and about us) which could be heard in the city, was different than the real situation” was due to the Party propagandists.  This sentence makes us wonder!  Lajos Csiba also proves that Brigadier-General Kovács and Colonel Szűcs had supper in the Kilián Barracks with Maléter, on November 2.   Brigadier-General Kovács’ statement also makes us wonder. . . “There is only one dependable military base in the whole country, and that is the Kilián Barracks. The re-establishment of the Socialist Order can and will be started here.”  In other words, the highest ranking officers of the Army, even on November 2, still did not accept the victory of the Revolution.  They still talked of “the re-establishment of the Socialist Order”!  In this atmosphere, Maleter’s statement which Colonel Miklós Szűcs quotes in his memoirs was very fitting.

 “November 3.  The different reconnaissance groups, the Mátyásföld Air Reconnaissance, and other groups which we sent out into the country to gather information, reported around noon, that there were large numbers of Soviet troops moving on the borders in the east and the west.  A soldier, Müller, who went to the western border on the orders of Maléter, to receive the medical supplies coming into the country from the west and organize a way of bringing them back into the country, phoned that also, on the west, there was a noticeable movement of Soviet troops and the Soviet Army had closed the borders.  All this created a very unified picture.  Maléter and Brigadier-General Kovács, the Commander of the Army Chiefs-of-Staff, who were negotiating in the morning with Soviet Commanders, could not believe that this movement would mean that they wanted to attack Hungary.  They explained it in this way: ‘That enormous power which the information reveals cannot be meant to be used against us because one segment of that power would be enough to destroy us.  The Soviet reconnaissance may have detected some Western military movements and probably they are preparing for an attack from the West.  Therefore this enormous army movement concerns only the West, not us.  But if they do not withdraw from their positions soon, according to the negotiations, then we will bring this question to the notice of the public.’  Maléter reported this situation to Imre Nagy anyway and, if I am well-informed, he made an official objection at the Soviet Embassy, more exactly, he asked for an explanation for the enormous Soviet force in Hungarian territory and for the newest movement of the Soviet Army into Hungary.  This report was substantiated by a report from Záhony that there were large numbers of Soviet soldiers entering Hungary from the east.

            “After this we had supper.  Maléter had invited the Commander of Corvin Circle, Gergely Pongrátz and the Commander of the Tompa Street group, whose name I cannot remember.  After dinner there was a lively conversation, on two subjects, the fate of the revolutionaries and Maléter’s Soviet decorations, which Pongrátz brought up.  He had still not made peace with Maléter.”


            Therefore, the Defense Minister and the Commander of the Chiefs-of-Staff knew about the enormous strength of the Soviets and yet they did not make any arrangements to defend the country.  (See the meeting held on November 2, in Corvin Circle.)  After supper the subject was changed. 


“November 4. Sunday.  Early in the morning, around 4:30 a.m. it was still completely dark and  I woke up to the sound of heavy firing.  I dressed quickly and looked out to see what was happening.  A soldier in the corridor reported that Soviet soldiers had broken into the barracks and were firing in the main entrance.  In the gateway and in the corridors of the ground floor, the guards of the barracks and the guard regiment held them back.”


            This was no longer the same Revolution which had started on October 23 and which was victorious on October 28!  On November 4, ‘early in the morning’ that Freedom Fight started which the Corvinists continued until November 10, in Corvin Circle and until November 15 in Rákoczi Square.


            “It is obvious that the guards, because it was their duty, would fight anybody who tried to attack the barracks.  That was natural.  If they did not do that, they would be derelict in their duty.   Two weeks earlier, we had opposed and fought against those revolutionaries who wanted to enter the barracks forcefully.  The difference was that now we had weapons and the defense of the barracks was well-organized.

            “After that, I called the Defense Ministry.  I was hoping to talk to the officer on duty to tell him what was happening at the barracks.  Brigadier-General Horváth answered.  I told him the situation and asked him for direction.  He told me that the Russians were at the Defense Ministry also.  They did not harm them and they did not fight them either.  He had no idea of what had happened to us at the barracks.  It was probably some kind of provocation and he advised that I try to stop the firing and talk to the Soviet soldiers.  He could not help but told me to act as I thought best.  (This was the usual answer from the Defense Ministry and the Army Chiefs-of-Staff, if somebody asked them what he should do.)  So I could not expect any help from here either.  Two weeks earlier we had received the same or very similar answer from the Army Chiefs-of-Staff, when the revolutionaries had attacked us, and they told us that they were unable to help.  They key to solving the situation was in the hands of Maléter, by restoring order in this territory.  The only one who had helped up till now was Maléter, when he came out with the five tanks to the barracks.  We were all on our own.  I called the revolutionaries at Corvin Circle and Tompa Street and told them what the situation was with us.  They told us that they were attacked also.  In Corvin, at the time that I phoned, they were hurrying to distribute weapons to the revolutionaries and they told us that they were in a difficult situation.  The revolutionaries of Tompa Street promised support because, up till now they had not been seriously attacked.”

            That is true. The unexpected Russian attack really caused confusion in the first hours.  The Soviet Red Army, of which the whole world was terrified, can be very proud of this.  Without any warning, without a declaration of war, they attacked the sleeping city of Budapest.  It is very characteristic of the soldiers of the “Hungarian People’s Army” that six days, in which the Hungarian nation was free, after the victorious Revolution, was not enough time for them to organize another successful defense but this, as we have seen in the memoirs of Miklós Szűcs and Lajos Csiba, was not even their intention.  The generals and high-ranking officers, in the interest of their own careers, did not even give the command that we should fire in our own defense.  Brigadier-General Horváth’s advice was “to try to stop the firing and talk to the Soviet soldiers”.  This was the solution from the Defense Ministry.

            “We had to hurry because it was starting to get light.  It was probably between 7 and 8 o’clock.  We suffered more and more losses.  I did not see any other solution.  We had to stop the fire and take the soldiers out of the barracks.  I calculated that I would have some opposition from the soldiers in the barracks.  Therefore I wanted to talk first to the officers but they could not come together because it was too light in the corridors.  So I gave the order to Captain Simon to cease the firing.  He did not forward my command but left the barracks.  Then I gave the command to the soldiers on the corridors to stop firing and move to the back segment of the barracks where, if it were necessary, they would be able to leave the barracks on the side of the Tűzoltó Street, through the Workers’ hostel.”

            According to this, the Kilián Barracks on November 4, between 7 and 7:30 a.m., stopped the fight because “I did not see any other solution.  We had to stop the fire and take the soldiers out of the barracks.”  In other words, the Kilián Barracks fell!  They prepared to flee towards Tűzoltó Street.

            “I sent the soldiers, who were located in the Workers’ Hostel on the Liliom Street side, to the bomb-shelter which was located in the Workers’ Hostel.  Those who were on the other side and who were unable to come to this side, went to the Workers’ Hostel on Kör Avenue and to the houses on Tűzoltó Street.  I also went to the Liliom Street Workers’ Hostel and, from time to time, I went back to the barracks to see what the situation was like there.  The barracks actually became empty but the Soviet soldiers came no further than the main gate or the ground floor of Üllö Avenue, either on that day or on the next.  From time to time one or two machine-guns fired at the yard and at the upper stories in case there was any movement there.  They did that, even in the afternoon.  In my opinion, there were two reasons that they did not come further in.  First, probably they did not believe that we had actually stopped firing and they were afraid of a trap. Secondly, the Corvinists were very strongly pressuring them from the direction of Corvin Circle, once they had organized themselves.”

            At the negotiations, On October 29, the generals intended to give over the command of the revolutionaries to the officers who came from the Officers’ School of Zrinyi Military Academy, and even the Army intended to take over the peacekeeping.  They kept telling us that the revolutionaries should surrender their weapons to the Army. They created a situation similar to that which happened in Rumania in December, 1989.   Out of the frying-pan into the fire.

            Those officers, whom we accepted as advisors to the revolutionary commanders, vanished into thin air from Corvin Circle, at dawn on November 4.  We Corvinists kept our positions until the late afternoon of November 9,  and the Russians were able to take over Corvin Circle, only after we abandoned it.  We were unable to defend ourselves against the heavy artillery.

            By the irony of history, or by the unity of the “Communist comrades”, those army officers were decorated in 1991, who were “heroes” between October 28 and November 4, during the days of peace after the victorious Revolution.  Among them were those who on October 28, and even after November 4, were firing at us revolutionaries.  At the same time, among those revolutionary comrades who survived, there were many who were injured who  received only a pittance for a monthly pension.  Nobody cared about them.

            I hope that future historians will find the mosaic pieces which are still hidden and forbidden to come to light by the so-called “reformed” Communists.

            For example, if they were to examine the trial of Imre Nagy, they would learn who really supported him and who did not.  Were there any who helped the executioners to put the rope around his neck and who were they?   An examination of this trial would also bring to light what Maléter believed about his own activities during the Revolution and how much his testimony would refute the statements that I made ten years ago.

            The fact that the “reform” Communists insist on keeping these documents secret proves that they want to cover up something. 

            If, in the trial of Imre Nagy, the testimony had been brought to the public’s attention, the myth that the “Communist comrades” were responsible for the Revolution would have evaporated!!!

            I know that the time will come when we are no longer living, that this will happen. Then the youths of Budapest will receive the acknowledgment from the nation which they really deserve and which has been stolen from them.!!!





1.       Fehér könyv, (White Book), III. 84, 2.

2.      Gosztonyi, Péter: A magyar forradalom története, 130, 4.

3.      Ibid.

4.      Ibid. 108, 3.

5.      Ibid. 127, 6.

6.      Ibid. 131, 3.

7.      Bohlen, Charles: Witness to History, p. 413. The United States Ambassador in Moscow, writes in his memoirs:   “black Zis limousines were seen entering the Kremlin on October 29, indicating that the full Presidium was meeting or had met, and officials were being instructed on carrying out the plans.  I had just received a cable from Dulles, who urgently wanted to get a message to the Soviet leaders that the United States  did not look on Hungary or any of the Soviet satellites as potential military allies.  The cable quoted a paragraph from a Dulles speech at Dallas to that effect, and emphasized that it had been written after intensive consideration at the “highest level” – an obvious reference to President Eisenhower.”

8.      McCauley, Brian: Hungary and Suez, 1956, Journal of Contemporary History, 1981, Volume 16, pp. 777-800: “Brian McCauley is a Soviet Foreign Policy analyst with the US Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of Political Analysis.  He is currently working on his doctoral dissertation, from which this article was derived, at Georgetown University.

            “But the Khrushchev-Malenkov visit to Yugoslavia may have had an even larger significance.  In August, 1960, Congressman Michael A. Feighan claimed that the State Department went the following telegram to Tito on 2 November 1956: ‘The Government of the United States does not look with favor upon governments unfriendly to the Soviet Union on the borders of the Soviet Union.’ (46) This alleged telegram, which the author has reason to believe is authentic, (47) would undoubtedly have been intended for Khrushchev’s ears.  The United States may have become aware of the secret Khrushchev-Malenkov visit through its intelligence and have taken this opportunity to give the Soviet leaders one last reassurance of American non-involvement. (48)  The wording of the alleged telegram gave Khrushchev full sanction to act as he saw fit to end the crisis. Of course, the decision to end the revolt had already been made by this time, (49) but the American message, if it was sent, would have solidified Soviet resolve to act with impudence.”

(46)  Congressional Record, Volume 106, Part 14, Eighty-sixth Congress, Second Session, 31 August, 1960.  18783-18790.

(47)The author had the opportunity to speak with Congressman Feighan briefly in 1977.  After a letter to him failed to elicit a response, he was contacted by phone. Mr. Feighan was adamant about not discussing the incident or revealing his source for the alleged telegram.  But he strongly defended the validity of his claim and assured the author that such a cable was, indeed, sent.  As of this writing, the State Department, although providing voluminous detail to the author on other aspects of the Hungarian and Suez crises, has failed to indicate whether it sent a cable to Tito on either 1, 2 or 3 November 1956.

(48) Khrushchev and Malenkov stopped off in Brest on the Soviet-Polish border, to meet with the Polish leaders, in Bucharest to meet with the leaders of Romania and Czechoslovakia and in Sofia to confer with the Bulgarians before heading to Brioni.  It seems highly unlikely that the movements of such a high number of Communist leaders in at least four countries could have gone undetected by Western Intelligence.  Staubinger confirms that Tito received a cable from Khrushchev on 1 November concerning Khrushchev’s and Malenkov’s arrival at Brioni the next day.  This cable conceivably could have been intercepted by American Intelligence to tip off Washington.  The American leaders were at least definitely aware of the fact that Khrushchev and Malenkov were absent from Moscow during this period from the reports of Ambassador Bohlen, US Department of State, Incoming Telegram No 1044, 2 November 1956 and ibid., Incoming Telegram No. 1057, 3 November 1956.

(49) Khrushchev implies in his memoirs that the decision to re-intervene was made on 31 October or 1 November.  He is not entirely clear; pp. 418-420.  Micunovic writes that Khrushchev appeared confident that the West would not respond to a Soviet attack on Hungary.  The Western powers would only protest verbally, said the Soviet leader, because ‘they are bogged down there (Egypt) and we are stuck in Hungary.’” 134.

9.    Irodalmi Ujság, 1981, July-October, M-14.

10.  A rádióadások tükrében, p.13.  5,6,7.

11.  Fehér Könyv, (White Book) III. 84, 7.

12.  A rádióadások tükrében, p. 14.

13.  Méray, Tibor: That Day in Budapest, 105, 2.

14.  Ibid.  48, 1.

15.  A rádióadások tükrében, 19, 7.

16.  Fehér Könyv, (White Book) III., 78, 1,2.

17.  Hollos, Ervin: Kik voltak, mit akartak? 50, 2.

18.  Sz. E. A magyar forradalom a rádióadások tükrében, 93. 1.

19.  Gosztonyi, Péter

20.  Molnár, János: Századok, 1148, 4.

21   Ibid. 1148, 2.

            János Molnár, in the Századok, the Journal of the Hungarian Historical Society, remembers Maléter’s “changing sides”:

            “Maléter’s change of sides was at first controversial.  The information that we have does not make a completely uniform standpoint possible.  On November 1, in the interview he gave to the press, Maléter placed the date of his joining the revolutionaries as October 24.

            “The alliance of the Corvinists and Maléter was an important condition of the establishment of the new Army.  The decisive step for Pál Maléter in this connection was that he went over to the revolutionaries right there, at the Kilián Barracks which were beside the Corvin Cinema.  This change of sides, which he announced to the Corvinists, represented to the revolutionaries that the Army and the revolutionaries had become identical because not just single soldiers but officers and whole units changed sides.  It cannot be established with whom Maléter kept up connections after October 25.  The fact is that, at that time, he established connections with the Corvinists.”

22.  Magyar Honvéd, Nov. 2.  Western journalists with Colonel Pál Maléter.

23.  Fehér Könyv, (White Book) III. 79, 2.

24.  M.F. and Sz. H. A rádióadások tükrében, 59. 11 o’clock.

25.  Molnár, János: Századok, 1153, 3.

26.  Gosztonyi, Péter: Szemle, 1960, 3, Brüsszel, 49, 7

            Gosztonyi writes the following:

            “Colonel Maléter looks for connections with the Commander of Corvin, Gergely Pongrátz, whom he invites to the Kilián Barracks.  Pongrátz, still uncertain, just sends a representative and asks that Maléter come to him.  The Colonel goes across and spends about two hours among the revolutionaries.”

27.  Molnár, János: Századok, 1149, 1, 2

28.  Hollos, Ervin: Köztársaságtér, 238, 1

29.  Gosztonyi, Péter: Szemle, 1960, 3, Brüsszel 49, 9-50, 1

30.  Maléter was courting a bookkeeper from the Soroksár Model Farm and he came out almost every day in the Defense Ministry’s car.  This was how there was a connection between Gábor Magos and Maléter.

31.  Rádióadások tükrében, 146, October 29, 17.16 hours.

32.  Hollos, Ervin: Köztársaságtér, 1956, 66. 3

33.  Ibid. 126. 1

34.  Ibid. 126. 1

35.  Ibid.  49. 2

36.  Ibid.  50. 1

37.  Rádióadások tükrében, 170. 4

38.  Hollos, Ervin: Köztársaságtér 1956, 60, 4-5

39.  Ibid.  61, 2-4

40.  Ibid.  62, 2

41.  Ibid.  62, footnote

42.  Rádióadások tükrében, 98, 3 and 101, 2

43.  Ibid. 103, 1

44.  Hollos, Ervin: Köztársaságtér 1956, 66, 1-3

45.  Ibid. 72, 2

46.  Ibid. 57, 1

47.  Ibid. 57, 1

48.  Gosztonyi, Péter: A magyar forradalom története, 81, 1;

             Új Látóhatár, 1964, III.- IV. 123, 4

49.  Méray, Tibor: Op. Cit, 350, 2

50.  Ibid.  350, 3

51.  Gosztonyi, Péter: A magyar forradalom története, 202, 2

52.  Király, Béla: Az első háború szoc. Országok között, 39, 3

53.  Ibid. 40, 1

54.  Gosztonyi, Péter: Magyar Honvéd, 1956, Nov. 2. 

55.  Király, Béla: Op. Cit. 40, 2

56.  Gosztonyi, Péter: Kilián napló, Szemle, 1960, 3, 44, 6-45, 4

            “Captain Szabó and his comrades attempted to disarm them but that group answered with firing.  Szabó collapsed right away, his comrades ran for cover.  By the time that I came down from the third floor, the First Aid men were carrying out Lieutenant Kollman.  A round of machine-gunfire had caught him in the head.  He was beyond help.  It appeared to be cruel but nobody was sorry for him.  He had asked for it.”

57.  Király, Béla: Op. Cit. 50, 2

       Molnár, János:  Századok, 1154, c

58.  Király, Béla: Op. Cit. 29, 3

59.  Ibid. 41, 1

60. Gosztonyi, Péter: Magyar Honvéd, 1956, Nov. 1, p.1

61.  A magyar forradalom a hazai rádióadások tükrében, 216, 17 h.

62.  Ibid. 214, 1h.

63.  Ibid. 212, 6h.

64.  Ibid. 182, 2h.

65.  Ibid. 104, 5h.

66.  Ibid. 186, 1h.

 67.  Hollos, Ervin: Kik voltak, mit akartak?, 81, 2

68.  A magyar forradalom a hazai rádióadások tükrében, 243, 4h.

69.  Ibid.  246, 10:08h.

70. Szivárvány, 5. 1981, Chicago, 14,1

71.  Király, Béla: Op. Cit. 30, 2

72.  Ibid. 30, 2

73.  Méray, Tibor: Op. Cit. 44, 1

74.  Hollos, Ervin: Kik voltak, mit akartak? 33, 1

75.  Ibid.  34, 1

76. Gosztonyi, Péter: Kilián Napló, Szemle, 1960, 3. 48, 5

77.  Ibid. 3. 48, 7,8

78.  Molnár, János: Századok, 1146,1

79. Ibid.  1148, 1

80. Király, Béla: Op. Cit. Pp. 39, 40, 41

81.  Molnár, János: Századok, 1154, 4

82.  Fehér Könyv (White Book) III. 82, 1

83.  Molnár, János: Századok., 1146, 1

84.  Hollos, Ervin: Kik voltak, mit akartak?  52, 2

85.  Ibid.  53, 1

86.  Király, Béla: Op. Cit. 53, 54

87.  Hollos, Ervin: Köztársaságtér, 53, 5, 6

88.  Ibid. 54, 1

89.  Ibid. 55. 1

90.  Ibid. 69, 1

91.  Ibid. 62, 2

92.  Molnár, János: Századok, 1135, 1

93.  Hollos, Ervin: Köztársaságtér, 148, 3

94.  Ibid. p. 6

95.  Ibid. 64,2; 65,1

96.  Gosztonyi, Péter: A magyar forradalom története, 142, 2

97.  Ibid. 144, 3

98.  Ibid. 107, 3

99.  Király, Béla: Op. Cit. 39, 2

100. Fehér Könyv (White Book) III. 86

101. Ibid. III. 83, 2

102. Hollos, Ervin: Kik voltak, mit akartak?  58, 1

103. Fehér Könyv, III. 82, 6

104. Ibid. III. 84. 5

105. Hollos, Ervin: Kik voltak, mit akartak?  54, 1

106. Gosztonyi, Péter: A magyar forradalom története, p. 201

107. Dr. Páll, György: A magyar néphadsereg szerepe a szabadságharcban, 37, 3:

“At dawn on November 4, the Russians ambushed the guards at the gate (of Kilián), broke down the gate and, with two machine-guns, they aimed toward the interior.  The Hungarian guards fell.”

108. Fehér Könyv, III. 84-1

109. Ibid. III. 84, 2

110. Ibid. III. 83, 9

111. Hollos, Ervin: Köztársaságtér, 49, 2

112. Ibid. 49, 1

113. Molnár, János: Századok, 1148, 2

114. Ibid. 1153, 2

115. Ibid. 1148, 3

116. Ibid. 1148, 3

117. Ibid. 1130, 2

118. Ibid. 1130, 8

119. Ibid. 1130, 3

120. Hollos, Ervin: Kik voltak, mit akartak?, 50, 1

121. Molnár, János: Századok, 1137, 1138, 1139

122. Fehér Könyv, III. 76, 7 - 78, 1

123. Gosztonyi, Péter: A magyar forradalom története, 142, 3

124.  Fehér Könyv, 58

125. Magyar, Sándor: A harmadik világháború története, 183, 2

126.  The Hungarian Quarterly, January 1961, 20, 4




            I was born in Szamosújvár, in Transylvania, on February 18, 1932.  Our parents brought us up to love our homeland and to be proud to be Hungarians.  During the 1930’s the Rumanian children fought us many times because we were patriotic Hungarians. 

            At the end of the war, my family moved first to Mátészalka and, when my father returned from the war, we moved again, to Soroksár, where my father was able to obtain 13 holds of land, because he had nine children.  We lived well in Soroksár.

            I became an agriculturist and it is only thanks to my Guardian Angel that I was able to survive 12 years of the Communist regime without going to prison.  As a lecturer for the Szob County Agricultural Council and later, as the leading animal breeder in the Cegléd Town Council, I had the opportunity to learn about the sad, desperate lifestyle of the Hungarian peasants and this began to shape my political opinions.

            I was a soldier for two years, during which time I was twice a private first class.  I was demoted once because I stated that Communism was nothing more than State Capitalism.  I was lucky that I was not sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

            The news of the outbreak of the 1956 Revolution reached me when I was working at the collective farm at Henyélpuszta.  I left there on the morning of October 24 to go to Budapest because I was sure that my brothers would be taking part in the Revolution.  I knew that my place was with them.  I arrived at Corvin Circle on the morning of October 25, where I became one of the revolutionaries and Freedom Fighters who led the Revolution to victory.  It was the greatest honor of my life to be elected by the Corvinists to be their Commander-in-Chief, on October 30. 

            On November 28, 1956, I left Hungary.

            In the spring of 1957, at the Congress of Freedom Fighters in Chicago, I was elected to be the Vice-President of the Hungarian Freedom Fighters Association, to work beside the President, Béla Király.   Since then, the association has weathered many storms.  I was the President for 15 years, until I resigned in February, 1982.

            On the 25th. anniversary of the Revolution, I decided that I would write about the events which took place at Corvin Circle during the Revolution.


[1]  This was written in 1982.

[2]  János Kádár, Communist Prime Minister of Hungary from 1956 to 1988.

[3]  Colonel Pál Maléter, in charge of the Kilián Barracks during the Revolution.

[4]  Imre Nagy, Prime Minister of Hungary, 1953-1955 and during the Revolution in 1956.

[5]  This was written in 1982.

[6]  Famous Hungarian poet who composed his poems at the time of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848.

[7]  Szamosújvár, in Transylvania, used to belong to Hungary.  It is now called Gherla and is in Rumania.

[8]  Fehér Könyv – White Book, a book of information about the Communists.

[9]  Transylvania at that time belonged to Hungary.  It remained Hungarian until 1920, when it was given to Rumania at the Treaty of Trianon after the First World War.

[10]  After the Revolution of the Hungarians against the Austrians in 1848, thirteen leaders were executed in the city of Arad.  They are known in Hungarian history as “the Arad thirteen”.

[11]  Kolozsvár used to belong to Hungary.  It is now called Cluj, in Rumania.

[12] Hungarians, all over the world, commemorate the Revolution of 1848 on March 15.

[13]  In Rumania, the Hungarians were not allowed to speak their native tongue or celebrate their holidays.

[14]  In 1940, Transylvania was returned to Hungary but Rumania took it back in 1945.

[15]  A “hold” is an area of land which measures 1.42 acres, and is the measurement used in Hungary.

[16]  Stalin was called “the mail robber”.

[17]  General Joseph Bem, a Polish general who came to the aid of the Hungarians in the 1848 Revolution. 

[18]  Prime Minister of Hungary from July 18, 1956 to October 27, 1956

[19]  Former Prime Minister of Hungary.

[20]  This is a line from a poem by Sándor Petöfi, “Nemzeti Dal” which encouraged the Hungarians to rise up against the Hapsburg Austrians.

[21]  Continuation of poem in footnote 20.

[22]  Micsurin was a Russian scientist who, at that time, was researching genetics and whose name often appeared in the newspapers with a new plant or animal mutation.

[23]  The Treaty of Trianon, 1920.

[24]  Reference to a famous Hungarian legend.

[25]  This was written in 1982

[26]  Hungarian hero of the 1848 Revolution.

[27]  Again note that this was written in 1982.

[28]  In the original text, the author refers to the fairy tales of  “Posa bácsi”. We replaced this name in the English text with Hans Christian Anderson, who is better-known to the English-speaking reader.

[29]  Görgey was the Commander-in-Chief of the Hungarian Army in the Revolution of 1848-1849.

[30]  In 1982

[31]  In 1982

[32]  Strikes and Solidarity movement.

[33]  In 1982

[34]  The Second Burial of the former Communist leaders who died in the Revolution.  They were reburied  with a great celebration and given the highest honors.