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.
“Those who were detained at the time agreed to be a sort of surrogate father if the real dad was killed. My natural father, Tibor, was hanged in April 1957. Joseph became my father from his cell. Joseph only told me when I was ready. He told me 1970. I was fifteen, he was twenty seven then, fourteen when he agreed to be my father. He’s now 71, I’m 59”.
Joseph drank some wine then continued, “When he told me it was no surprise. It was not uncommon. But Joseph was a broken man when the Soviets released him 1969. I ended up being father to him. The paradoxes of war.”
“Janos, you never asked me to help but always wanted me to do just that. You never gave me any information, just the introductions to some friends and relatives?”
“Effectively you asked me to do something without saying anything or offering any information?”
“And you wanted me to then do something that was just as undefined?”
“So why me?”
“Because we saw your compassion”.
“But I still cannot answer that damned ‘why?’ question”.
“And you knew that all along?”
“Yes”. Janos continued, “All I did was introduce you to Budapest. And I introduced you to the people of Budapest. I never asked you to do anything, you were able to do that yourself. You know the answer to the ‘why?’ question – that being ‘Why did this happen?’”
Janos paused, by now I was totally engrossed, before he continued, “And now you know. Nobody will ever know why. And we need that. Because the answer to your last question that you never asked – the impact of Ferdinand’s assassination – well we don’t know and we don’t really care. All those who were there then are dead now. It was a long time ago. So your ‘why’ question has no answer, only painful recollections of a painful past.
“No, this is now and we are free. And we want to keep our freedom. We don’t want any more occupations. We want to continue to prosper financially, physically and spiritually; like yourselves. And we want your help. So I ask you to do just one thing. Wherever you are, whoever you are with, talk. Tell them what freedom is really like.
“I think I know what I’ll be talking about in Korea.