Page 1, 23rd November 1956

23rd November 1956
Page 1
Page 6
Page 1, 23rd November 1956 — What next for boy-fighters?

Report an error

Noticed an error on this page?
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it.


People: Byrne, Badalik, Laszlo
Locations: Budapest, Berlin, London


Related articles

25 Years Ago

Page 8 from 27th November 1981

Revenge On The Refugees

Page 12 from 25th January 1957

A Child's Book Tells A Story

Page 1 from 16th November 1956


Page 7 from 7th December 1956

Austria Too Heeds The Africa Call

Page 1 from 11th July 1958

What next for boy-fighters?


HUNGARIAN men among the

refugees who arrived in London this week told me that a considerable number of priests are among the hostages whom the Communist authorities have been deporting to Russia.

They also told me that during the fighting the Russians arrested 65year old Mgr. Badalik, the Dominican Bishop of Veszprem.

No reason was given for seizing him and he was released three days later after workers had made repeated protests.

Two of the men I spoke to, men in their twenties — one a student in industrial chemistry, the other a student in electrical engineering — had themselves been held by the Russians for deportation.

They won their release through representations by workers' deputalions at a time when the Russians had not enough trains to cope with all the prisoners they intended to send away.

These two young men were deeply concerned about hoes among the refugees. Some of these boys were sitting a tables near us while we were speaking in the place where they are temporarily housed in London — a former old people's home in the Fulham Road.


The boys were very quiet. They did not joke or laugh. Old eyes looked out from their young faces, bewildered and sad.

Large numbers of such boys, the two students told me, boss from 13 to 17, bad in the past week or so lived a fantastic life of violence and bloodshed, fighting as grown men and with astounding heroism.

Something must be done urgently to make them boys again, said the students. Their experiences would leave a scar. They must be treated with patience and understanding if the scar was ever to heal. They must go to schools where they could be readjusted as well as educated.

This, said the students, is a special problem of the Hungarian rising one of the most urgent and tragic of all. The two students had no doubt that they would soon he rearrested. Escape to the West was the only alternative. Both have left behind them parents who have no idea where they are or even if they are alive.


One of them is a Catholic, the other a Protestant.

It was the Protestant who had most to say about Cardinal Mindszenty. He said he was revered by everyone. and he, a Protestant. had intended to go to hear a sermon by the Cardinal the day the Russians came hack. The sermon was never preached.

Most of the young men at this London refugee centre were in their early twenties. Some were students but most were factory workers.

Typical of the factory workers was Laszlo (surnames are dangerous). His story is a typical one of a Catholic upbringing the fruit of which Communism tried but failed to destroy.

His parents were Catholics. But his father died when he was a baby, and not long afterwards his mother was seriously injured. He was put into a Catholic institution in Budapest conducted by a priest.

(Continued on page 6)


(Continued front page I) When Communism took control, the priest was taken away. He never found out what had happened to him. Laselo continued to practise his religion after he had left school and went to work as an electrician in a factory.

The rising caught him up at the very beginning. When he went into his factory on the morning of October 23 he was handed a leaflet containing the now famous 16 demands of the revolutionaries. He was told that his fellowworkers planned to join a demonstration before the Parliament Building.

This demonstration was fired on by Hungarian secret police. The demonstrators replied by throwing stones. Some seized arms.

" I took a pistol from a Hungarian soldier's belt. He just stood there and let me take it." said Laszlo. "There was more firing after that and we went on to demonstrate in front of the Radio building. " We took some houses opposite. Children brought us ammunition, food and cigarettes."


A bullet grazed Laszlo's scalp and knocked him nut, He went to a hospital but there were no doctors and he dressed his wound himself.

He stayed helping other patients fur a time. But later he joined rebels fighting from an Arms barracks where there were plenty of ammunition and arms, including anti-tank weapons. " We fought for three days," said Laszlo, " and 1 saw many tanks knocked out.

I " When we were finally surrounded. and the Russians got in, 1 saw them shoot 30 men that they had taken prisoners.

" Many of us, in three groups, managed to conceal our weapons and hide in the cellars.

" We were there several days. 1 don't know how many. Then I got I away, meaning to get out of Hungary if 1 could.

" Fortunately 1 went first to the house of an aunt and washed and had a shave. This saved my life. Russian posts on the bridge across the Danube that I had to cross were stopping young men and arresting and shooting those they found unshaven and dishevelled on the principle that this showed they had been several days out with the patriots."

Laszlo said that he walked to the Austrian border and met Austrians in a small village in the early morning. He asked for the church and went to Mass.


This young man was one of the few among the refugees who appeared to wait to stay in England. Most hope that eventually they will be able to get to Australia--and away from Europe altogether. All the refugees I talked to confirmed reports that the Russians have been effecting as complete a change-over as possible of the troops originally in Hungary. Too many of the initial force had Sided with the rebels.

To illustrate this, one refugee said that in a march on the Parliament Building in which he had taken part. 10 Russian tanks had joined the revolutionaries and had replied to the fire of the secret police trying to break up the march.

Another, a middle-aged engineer who speaks Russian. said that he had made it his business to talk with Soviet soldiers. Once when he was interpreting for a Hungarian workman and a Russian soldier, a Communist agent interfered. The Russian shot the agent.


One man said that a considerable number of Russians must be hiding in Budapest and elsewhere They had helped the insurgents. taking a chance on their susses, after they had been promised homes, jobs and citizenship in Hungary.

There were many stories to confirm accounts of Russians who

thought they had been sent to fight "the hated Americans" and to "liberate Hungary from the West" and of Russians who believed themselves to he in Berlin or in Egypt defending the Suez Canal.

They were greatly shaken when told they were in fact shooting down workers like themselves.

From the refugees' stories it is clear that the whole rising was set

off and sustained by a complete revolt of the country's youth. This. they said, showed the utter failure of one of the Communists' must cherished policies. They did everything possible to win over the young. Proficiency in Communist teaching was the key to all kinds of promotion and privilege. Children and adolescents had to study Marxist-Leninist theories and pass examinations. The rising showed that study had not brought conviction.


Refugees said that though the Church itself had nothing to do with the revolt, it had been indirectly involved in a way it could not help. Religion was a binding force from the start because every

revolutionary knew that a man who was known to be a practising Catholic was certainly not a Communist. It was one way of recog nising a friend.

Refugees told how priests in Budapest had worked at top pres sure among the sick and wounded.

Many discarded clerical clothing in order to move about more freely. Questions about Catholic life in Hungary before the revolution dis

closed a familiar pattern. The Russians tried to begin a schism in the Church, in fact, to use her immense power and prestige for their own ends. But their so called " peace-priests" were a complete failure.

Secret police dossiers put a " black mark " against anyone known to he " religious." Compulsory meetings were organised for times when Mass was celebrated so that attendance was impossible. Men in official positions often dared not inarry in church. The State took over all Catholic schools. and religious instruction was abolished. Children had to rely for instruction at home.

A woman refugee with a child said that Masses continued as usual in several churches she knew while the fighting was going on in Budapest. Crowds of people \sere in the churches praying.

A man said: "But they were large and growing larger before the revolt. too. After all. it is not surprising— when you are oppressed, you turn to God."


Organisation of Catholic life for the refugees now they have arrived in England is still in for mative stages Fr. Molnar, the Ilungarian chaplain helping to look after the refugees. hopes to say Mass at the transit centre. He said Mass for them on Sunday at the nearby Servile Church.

Two of the refugees have already been given accommodation by Fr. Basset, S.J., at Southwell House. Wing-Commander Byrne, who is organising accommodation for refugees in a house in Sussex, is preparing to take in between 50 and 60 curly next week. Fifty-six local volunteers have been helping to scrub floors, polish furniture and make beds.

There is an urgent need for china and cutlery, for Hungarian dictionaries and Hungarian books. He has also arranged for the publication or a prayer-hook in I ungarian.

blog comments powered by Disqus