A recent business visit to Budapest offered many things from this culturally enlightened city. Too much for the limited free time I had during the visit.
One of my local hosts had emailed me some “things to do” – pubs, restaurants, museums etc. Most of the items were a 3 word title in a bulleted list, some with a handful of words.
Except one. It had two sentences comprising 53 words. I said to my host, “this is meant to be different?”
I had never heard of this place so there was no preparation. All I had was some historical knowledge, a place to visit and a desire to write.
Some knowledge of a troubled past. A place to visit on Andrassy Boulevard. To write about the House of Terror.
go to Part 1: Budapest
As Joseph wiped away his tears Janos reappeared. I also wiped my own tears away. Janos said, “You asked me if Joseph was my father. Yes, my stepfather. My father was executed in the House 1957. I was two years old.
“I was born 1951, five years before the uprising. I was entering an age of unheralded brutality. By then the Kulaks, the peasants who had been targeted by the AVH, the then secret police, had gone. We reckon four hundred thousand arrests were made, simply because they were peasants and peasants did not fit the Soviet model.
Work the following day saw my testing completed successfully and ahead of schedule. This was a relief as my work concentration was shot to hell. I could not distance myself from my growing belief I now had the answer to my ‘why?’ question. Focus on work was very difficult as a result.
The next day my contract work followed the same pattern. Long unbroken hours – thirteen this time, extra testing was required – but productive all the same. The project closure could be brought forward if the pace was maintained. That sort of concerned me, I had four days scheduled so three more nights at the hotel.
“Well, the accent, ‘not from these ere parts’ as they say in South Carolina. My mum was spirited out of Budapest shortly before the Nazis arrived in 1944. We knew if they did come it would be our own Kristallnacht before the inevitable one way trip to Auschwitz.
Monday came, I was back at work. Eleven hours solid with a couple of coffee breaks, then back to the hotel. But my concentration during the day was constantly interrupted by that ‘why?’ question. Still unanswered. So when I got to the bar at The Boscolo I was not surprised to see an empty table with an opened bottle of Zsolt’s wine. Nor was I surprised to see three glasses, not two. Any element of surprise was long gone. Or so I thought, hoped even.
Outside the House of Terror there is an innocuous but inspiring monument. It is called “The Iron Curtain”. It’s around fifteen feet wide, ten feet tall. It is constructed of vertical lines of rusty iron links, top to bottom, both sides.