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Max Tauber

1956 hatte ich große Schwierigkeiten mit der KPÖ, als ich über den Aufstand in Ungarn [28] gehört habe und was sich da abgespielt hat. Das war ein Wahnsinn! Die Kommunisten haben dann gesagt, dass die NATO schon bereit war, in Ungarn einzumarschieren, und darum mussten die Russen dort einmarschieren. Das war der Standpunkt der KPÖ. Das habe ich dann noch, wie man auf gut wienerisch sagt 'gefressen', aber dann war der Prager Frühling [29], Einmarsch 1968 in die Tschechoslowakei. Da hat die KPÖ erklärt, die Souveränität der Tschechoslowakei wird weiterhin beachtet werden. Das war aber dann überhaupt nicht der Fall. Da habe ich gesagt, jetzt ist Schluss, ich betätige mich nur mehr in der Gewerkschaft! Damit war meine Zugehörigkeit zur Partei so gut wie erledigt.
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Otto Suschny

Von der Linie der Kommunistischen Partei hab ich mich immer mehr distanziert. Und als dann 1956 die Revolution in Ungarn durch das militärische Eingreifen der sowjetischen Streitkräfte niedergeschlagen wurde hat mir immer mehr zu Denken gegeben. Ich hab gegen Aufrüstung unterschrieben, aber ich war nicht linientreu, das war ich eigentlich nie so richtig. Nur am Anfang, als ich es nicht besser wusste. Von dem Moment an, wo ich ein bisschen selbständiger denken konnte, war ich alles andere als linientreu.
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Eshua Aron Almalech

When we learned about the process against the Jewish doctors in the Soviet Union [the Doctors’ Plot [11]] from the newspapers, my father had not left for Bulgaria yet. My wife Nedyalka and he thought that this was some kind of provocation by the Stalinist regime. I admit I was in two minds. The communist regime forbade listening to foreign radio stations such as the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Free Europe, the Voice of America. But my wife and I were journalists and we listened to them. In 1956 after the events in Hungary, I started having doubts about socialism, all the more when most of Stalin’s atrocities became public. [Eshua is referring to the Hungarian revolution against the Soviet type communist regime in Hungary.] But in 1968 after the Soviet armies [i.e. the armies of the Warsaw Pact] occupied Prague, I just could not accept it despite my leftist orientation.
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Vera Stulberger

Und 1956 sind wir weggegangen. Da waren zwei meiner Schwager bereits im Ausland. Die sind nach Györ gefahren. Dort hat ihnen ein Eisenbahner über die Grenze geholfen, und von dort fuhren sie nach Amerika weiter. Der Eisenbahner hat uns kontaktiert, dass wir auch nach Amerika können, wenn wir wollen. Inzwischen war die ganze Familie meines Mannes in Amerika. Ursprünglich wollten wir auch dorthin, aber dann sind wir doch nach Österreich gefahren. Meine Schwester Edit kam uns Jahre später mit einem legalen Reisepass nach.

1959 bekamen wir die erste Wohnung. Davor wohnten wir im Hotel. Wir Juden haben ein Hotelzimmer bezahlt bekommen. Wir wurden nach Bad Kreuzen gebracht, das ist in Oberösterreich. Es stand ein großes Gebäude da, irgendein Sanatorium. Das war ein Lager nur für Juden, es wurde aber von den Norwegern verwaltet. Alle waren Norwegen: der Pfleger und der Küchenchef. Als viele nach Amerika gegangen sind, hat man dieses Lager geleert und uns nach Korneuburg gebracht. Das Lager dort war eine alte Kaserne. Als auch Korneuburg geleert wurde, brachte man uns nach Kagran. Mein Mann ging in einen Weinkeller arbeiten. Dann bekamen wir eine Wohnung im 11. Wiener Stadtbezirk, eine alte Kaserne wurde zum Wohnhaus mit Einzimmerwohnungen. In der Gegend waren alle Ungarn. Danach bekamen wir eine größere Wohnung, die eigentlich von der UNO gebaut wurde. Die Caritas, die christliche Hilfsorganisation, ist eigentlich unser Gastgeber seit 1964.
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Ferenc Leicht

We got married on the 13th and on the 23rd they started shooting [see 1956][15]. I didn’t feel like getting involved at all. Everyone knew that I had been an Israeli soldier, that I had been a Hungarian soldier. I was 27 years old and well trained, I must say. I played all the instruments from the anti-aircraft gun onwards to everything. And when the civic guard was formed in the Lamp Factory they came and brought me the machine gun and the submachine gun and what not, asking me to go with them. I apologized and said that I had gotten married 10 days earlier and I wouldn’t leave my wife. And I didn’t go. But the son of the family where I lived came home from Taszar on foot. They said, ’we are sorry Ferike, vis maior, move out. At that time fights had already been going on in Ujpest, too, and everyone lived in the cellar. 

In the meantime, on the 25th October when the fights hadn’t started in Ujpest yet, we were all at the United Lamp Factory and when we finished work my boss and the party secretary called me in and said: ‘Look, Feri, you are a trained soldier. Here is this engineer called Lali E., who is a very smart man, a genius and we need him, he wants to go home to his parents, opposite to the Houses of Parliament, on Alkotmany Street. In that district there are a lot of fights, try to escort him home safely.’ Then we set off with Lali on foot and I was his guide, his mentor. What I did was, that acquaintances of mine lived in different places. From Ujpest I phoned one of my acquaintances who lived on the corner of Dozsa Gyorgy Street and asked what the situation was there. He said nothing, we could go safely. Then we went up to his place. From there I called my acquaintance on Marx Square. He said that there were heavy fighting from the Danube until there, but after Szondi Street there weren’t. Then we didn’t go there, but took the backway to Szondi Street, we looked round, it was relatively calm there. Then we walked on the boulevard, it was calm in that part. Because that certain demonstration, on which ten of thousands or hundreds of  thousands of  people demonstrated on the 25th  in front of the Parliament, was at that time. In the end I took Lali home, then I set off to go back to Ujpest. In the meantime there was a lot of shouting at my back, a Soviet combat car came from Kossuth Square to Alkotmany Street. When I said to myself that I wasn’t going to wait for this, and I ran in to the Unitarian church on Marko Street. There 2 young men surrounded me at once and asked me who I was. They made me sit among the others, there were already X plus N armless men there, who were waiting for the Russians to move along. And when they continued on their way they let us out. Then I went back to Kossuth Square to see what the news was there. The demonstration had ended already, it was something terrible, it turned my stomach, though I had seen a couple things in the war. But this was too much for me, too.

My mother-in-law, my father-in-law and my wife lived in the big yellow house called Mefter-house at the corner of Arpad Street. They lived in the apartment overlooking the square, from where one could see the Northern Railway Bridge, where the combat cars fired a lot. Everyone had moved to the cellar. I also went to the cellar where everyone from the approximately 20 apartments of the house was, on mattresses and everything put down along the wall. There wasn’t any more room, only in the middle, we put clothes on the ground with my wife, we lived together for the first time there in that cellar. One day a Russian combat car came in front of the house and started to fire at it. I counted 19 hits. And one blew away the main water-meter next to the apartment of the caretaker, and the water started pouring into the cellar where the people lived. There was a tap outside which had to be turned off, but the combat car was standing there. Then the caretaker and I stuck out our nose waving big white sheets, a grouchy Russian came there and pointed to the roof that someone had shot from there and one of their officers died. I told him that everyone was in the cellar. He insisted, but he let us turn off the main tap and then we went back. But they shot at everything that moved. I went up to cook in the apartment of my mother-in-law on the first floor. But they didn’t dare to come out, they were in the cellar night and day. And I cooked out of what they had at home. But my mother-in-law was a negligent housewife, they barely had anything. Carrots and apples. I made carrot sauce, simmered the meat well, baked it in the oven and took it downstairs with the carrot sauce. My father-in-law said that he had never eaten anything that delicious. We were down there for about 3 weeks, and I cooked throughout. The braver ones from among the others also went upstairs to cook. This house had back exits, too, and when the geese for export were taken to the Ujpest market so that they wouldn’t go bad, because they couldn’t export anything, there was no train traffic either, one could buy a whole geese, I went and bought one, too. One could buy bread and geese. On the 4th November at dawn the radio said that everyone should go to work. By that time the Soviet tanks were in Ujpest and they lumbered and shouted everywhere. I said that as I saw we wouldn’t set off for work.

Once the fights stopped for a while, then I went immediately to the United lamp Factory and the first engineer, Vaszily was very frightened and didn’t know what to do. I told him ‘Comrade first engineer, in my opinion you should first have all the depots locked, because they will take away all the goods’. We locked everything and the United Lamp Factory wanted me to be part of the armed guard. At the first gunshot the guard changed sides. Weapons remained, but no guard. I apologized and said that I wouldn’t spring to arms. The situation was chaotic for a long time, because the demonstration was about to end, but the United Lamp Factory kept demonstrating and the revolutionary committee of the factory didn’t let the work be started until the members of the AVO [see AVH][16] and the Russians broke in by force, they took the committee, then work started.

At the time when they were still shooting, on the 5th or 6th November, our relative, Istvan Mate Lusztig, who had lived in this apartment, he was the husband of one of my mother’s sisters who was killed, called me on the phone and asked me to visit him. We appreciated our very few relatives so much that after the blood-relation who linked us died, we still kept in touch as relatives and still loved each other. He married a widow in Nagykanizsa and in 1947 they came to live in Pest, because an uncle of the wife, a reputed lawyer died here. And when I came here, Istvan Mate Lusztig put a rental contract in front of me in which it was written that I had been living there for 3 months, and that my wife was also going to move there, and wanted me to sign it. I asked why. He said because they were going to go abroad [Editor’s note: In the weeks after the 1956 revolution about 200000 people left the country, defected.] So when they left we moved here, but at that time there was an ordinance that 2 persons were allowed live in a one-bedroom apartment at the most, and this was a two and a half bedroom apartment. Then I talked with my parents on the phone and asked that at least one of them should come to Pest. Both of them came, because my mother and my father were party members, my mother was also a lay judge and they had a lot of hen thieves and others imprisoned. And those vowed vengeance against her, that if they came out of the prison they would slay my mother or do I don’t know what to her. And really, in 1956 the criminals were also released from prison. My mother was frightened and they left the apartment in Nagykanizsa together with my father and came to live with us. So there was enough of us in the apartment.
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Rachelle Muzicant

Die polnischen Juden waren die größte Gruppe unter den Juden in Wien. Sie kamen 1946 aus Lagern nach Wien. 1956, gerade als wir gekommen sind, war in Ungarn Revolution, und da sind viele Ungarn, darunter auch Juden nach Wien gekommen. Die Polen hatten schon einen höheren Lebensstandard. Gewohnt haben sie aber alle noch immer in Untermietzimmern aus Koffern, weil sie bis zum Staatsvertrag 1955 nicht gewusst haben, ob die Russen bleiben und sie wieder flüchten müssen. Das war mir alles so fremd, daran hab ich mich erst gewöhnen müssen.
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Emma Balonova

Regarding the Hungary revolution [15] and the Prague spring [16]: I did not trust our newspapers. I understood that it was a scandal to interfere in affairs of other countries. It was shocking and impudent!
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Boris Iofik

Regarding the Hungarian events and the Prague spring, I was concordant with the official opinion [11, 12].
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Boris Lerman

Anatoly Lifshits

I was on the side of Hungarians during the Hungarian revolution [27] and on the side of Czechs during the Prague spring [28].
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Alexander Ugolev

I took neither the Hungarian [1956 Revolution], nor the Czech events of 1968 [Prague Spring] [25] very much to heart. During the Czech events a jazz band from the Czech Republic performed on tour here and I thought that if the Czech orchestra came here to play, it meant that in Czechoslovakia everything was fine.
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Boris Pukshansky

During events in Hungary [17] and the Prague spring [18] I was entirely on the side of Hungarians and Czechs. I was shocked that the USSR interfered in the internal affairs of other countries in a free and easy manner.
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