The pig roast will be on Saturday
I was born on July 31, 1944 and grew up in a small town named Buj near Nyíregyháza.
When the Revolution started I was 12 years old and living in Buj with my mother and grandmother. My father, whom I did not know except through letters, left Hungary in 1944, fled to Germany and made his way to the United States to work on a farm owned by a relative in Connecticut. He became a United States citizen and tried very hard to get my mother and me to join him in America, but all his attempts were rebuffed by the Hungarian government. The Revolution presented my mother with an opportunity of a lifetime, albeit a very risky and dangerous one, to leave the country.
After the Revolution was brutally suppressed by the Russians, thousands of Hungarians fled the country into Austria. My mother, with the help of my uncle, planned to do the same. She arranged with relatives in Budapest to make contacts with a farmer they knew who lived on the border near Sopronkövesd to help smuggle us out of the country for a fee of 10000 forints. It was going to be a difficult undertaking, since we first had to cross the country by train to get to the border.
One day near the end of November my mother received a telegram from Budapest that said We Are Waiting For You-The Pig Roast Will Be On Saturday-Come As Soon As You Can. This was the signal to let my mother know that the arrangements were made and we should start as soon as possible. The next morning my mother, uncle and I left by train carrying only a few suitcases on an adventure that changed our life forever. I did not, could not, as a young child know that morning as the train pulled out of the tiny train station at Buj that I would not be back to my birthplace for thirty years.
Our first stop was Budapest, where we stayed with our relatives for a few days. I remember the city in ruins, remember that there were still demonstrations and even heard what I thought was gunfire at night. The rest of the trip to the border was tense, but uneventful. Somehow we were overlooked by the train security officers who were checking identifications and inquiring about people's destinations.
When we finally arrived at the home of the farmer whose property was near the Austrian border we stayed with him and his family for about three days waiting for the right time to cross the border. On the night of December 6, a clear but very cold night, we were led through the fields to a wooded area, which we crossed and came to a clearing. The farmer pointed my uncle in some direction and left us there.
Crossing to Austria
I remember walking for hours in the frigid cold, being very scared and terrified. Were we lost, were we going to get caught, or worse, would we get shot by border guards? I could tell panic was setting in as my uncle was crawling on the ground looking for land mines. We finally happened on a dirt road but had no idea where it led. In one direction we saw a faint light in the distance and decided to walk in that direction. After some time we came upon a crucifix on the side of the road. My uncle could tell in the moonlight that the inscription on the crucifix was in German and we became more confident that we were going in the right direction.
We eventually arrived at the light which we were walking toward and which turned out to be the police station of a small Austrian town. When we went inside we met five or six other Hungarians who also successfully escaped that same night.
The plan was that my uncle would help us escape and then return to his family back in Hungary. After the ordeal we went through he decided not to return but to arrange that his wife and son, as well as the relatives in Budapest who helped us, escape as well, which they did successfully but under even more harrowing circumstances a few weeks later. We were all reunited in Vienna in January of 1957.
My mother and I, as well as my uncle and his family, arrived in the United States on February 23, 1957 which happened to be the holiday of George Washington's birthday. We were part of a special program ordered by President Eisenhower to airlift 10,000 refugees to the United States. I saw my father for the first time three days later when he came to Camp Kilmer in New Jersey to take us to his home in Shelton, Connecticut.
This is just one of two hundred thousand stories of Hungarian refugees escaping the Communist terror during and after the Revolution of 1956.
After escaping from Hungary at the age of 12, he finally met his father for the first time and eventually obtained a PhD in physical chemistry from Yale University in 1971. He worked at a research products company and later at DuPont in various technical and managerial positions for 26 years. He has been married to Linda Béres since 1967. A cancer survivor, he is now retired and lives in Hull, Massachusetts, a small coastal community south of Boston.