Page 5, 25th February 1949

25th February 1949
Page 5
Page 5, 25th February 1949 — EYE W ITNESS AT THE TRIAL

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Locations: Budapest


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chief, told us at two Press conferences to write that the Cardinal was not a brave man or hero of freedom, but a weakling, a coward, On the second ... of the trial at a „ . Press conference, an attempt was made to railroad through a

resolution which the impression it would give to the outside world, would whitewash the trial. Edward Curry. of the United Press, whose dispatches were completely objective throughout the trial, refused to sign that resolution. And so did I.

All sortsof pressures were put upon us, but we did not sign.

The Hungarian Government is so infuriated by my discourtesy that

it decided I no longer existed. I was told of no new developments. I had to depend on one of the seven

interpreters. . . Indeed, Ingishyi told one Hungarian newspaperman that so far as the Foreign Office was concerned, they had no knowledge of my being at the trial. Yesterday as this correspondent left Budapest, the other correspondents were being taken by bus to the prison where... would serve his life term.

That this trip was being made in advance of the Cardinal's appeal to the Hungarian Supreme Court didn't strike anyone as strange.

1 he trial is over. That the prosecution. the judge, the defence, the Hungarian Press system, were all very. strange by American standards is indisputable.

What Happened

BUT the question remains : what made the Cardinal act as he did ? What made him and the others confess to the alleged crimes 7 Was Cardinal Mindszenty drugged ? Or tortured ? Or hypnotized ? I am not a doctor. Some of the correspon

dents at the trial seemed to have more medical knowledge than L for they described the Cardinal as perfectly normal in every respect.

1 was not permitted to speak to the Cardinal. I don't know whether the Cardinal was drugged, or beaten or hypnotised. I do know that a man who normally was strong and resolute had become weak and humble. The Cardinal acted like a man not in his right mind at the very first session of the court.

A letter was produced from the Cardinal to the Hungarian Minister of Justice offering to resign. As a Cardinal, Mindszenty must have known his resignation could be accepted only by the Pope.

The Cardinal had frequent lapses of memory and had to be prodded. Before his arrest, the Cardinal could deliver a letter-perfect sermon from a few notes.

Then there were the mistakes in grammar by the Cardinal and the other defendants. men ordinarily incapable of such mistakes.

THE key to all this are those 38 days the Cardinal spent in custody before the trial. I don't know for sure what method was used on the Cardinal and on the other defendants. But I have spoken to many Hungarians who have been held by the secret police for questioning. These Hungarians signed confessions persuaded by such convincing methods as standing with arms overhead until faint, receiving electric shock treatments or repeated blows on the kidney with a blunt instrument.

Two American employees of •the Standard Oil Company last year were held by the Hungarian police and also signed confessions. These men reported afterwards the rhethods used upon them were simply starvation and terror.

Perhaps the Cardinal wasn't tor

tured at all. Perhaps Zakar, the Cardinal's boyish-looking secretary, was the main victim in order to arouse the Cardinal's pity. Of all the defendants, Zakar looked like the likeliest victim. Zakar's dazed . . . appearance, his carefully recited lines, all lend credence to that theory.

The Last Speech

BUT not all the clues to what happened are outside the court. It is worth noting that the Cardinal's final speech—after the so-called defence attorney had spoken—was delivered in a much clearer, more decisive manner than his earlier repudiations and confessions.

For the first time, the Cardinal gave some evidence of being an orator. He recited the speech with emphasis.

The Cardinal said " 1 stand

here with an inheritance of halfa-century of formal education in basic principles. These basic principles arc impressed in the human soul as railway lines are imbedded in the earth. These basic principles direct us in a straight line as the railway lines guide the train."

And this was the same man who for three days had been going far off that track, repudiating his basic principles, confessing his alleged sins, kotowing to the Communist Government, The test of the Cardinal's final speech had many innocuous state ments. But one more passage is worth mention.

O/ the evonfirsuctii:gitarailaidni purreolprolet ;fp ,evaeidnezv Cardinal. " I did not and do not Bevy jets, conflict with the Hungarian worker or the Hungarian pea

sant. to which class my family belong,'

Perhaps in these two passages the Cardinal, although forced to confess and to go along with the Government throughout the trial, cleverly concealed his real thoughts, that he believed—as he always did —that he was not an enemy of the Hungarian worker or peasant, but only of what he left out of that statement—the Communist Government.

" I Shall Never Forget"

I SHALL never forget that last touching scene when the defendants arose and the court pronounced the sentences. The Cardinal stood with head slightly bowed, hands crossed before him. His only sign of emotion was a slight twitching of his cheek ...

I spoke to other people in the street, in the little coffee houses. Those few who dared speak were bitter. A housewife said; " No one believes the Cardinal spoke of his own free will. They must have done something to him." 1 spoke to a man who had been very close to the Cardinal. This man said: " They were afraid to give him the death sentence because they know his hold on the people is too great."

And just outside the courthouse, a man told me in a low voice: "The comedy is over." It was a comedy, a tragic comedy, and now it is over. But from my impressions in Hungary. and from the reports I have read from throughout the world, it is plain that this tragic comedy will live long in the memory of men.

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