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.
I reckoned Janos would have two more introductions for me over those three nights so I had planned briefly to meet him in the evening before apologising and then take my leave. I needed to go back to the House of Terrors, to better understand the pain and to try to answer the ‘why?’ question. My first visit had graphically captured three events – the Nazi and Soviet Occupations as well as the house itself being used for torture, especially after the 1956 uprising. After Zsolt and Orsolya’s stories – the Soviet and Nazi occupations – I was sure Janos would introduce me to that 1956 uprising and to the event that started it all, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo 1914, an event that triggered the first great war and the subsequent disintegration of the Austria Hungarian empire; that itself leaving a breeding ground for all evil entities to breed themselves and their own horrific empires. So three nights, two questions, allowing me to get the answer to my ‘why?’ question.
I made my way to the bar; Janos was not there. Nor was the table, nor was that wonderful Bock wine. My surprise was short lived – if I had two questions and three nights left, Janos was the type of person who would already have figured that out itself. I kept walking, all the way back to the House of Terror, but this time I did not go in.
No. This time I went back to the monument because during my first visit I had only looked at the two opposite symmetrical sides of vertical iron chains – The Iron Curtain. And also the thin side, the face with the inscriptions in English. Those observations had made me realise why it was called the House of Terror before I went inside.
But by going in and without realising, I had missed the opposite side of the English inscriptions. My intuition told me it would be the same inscriptions but in Hungarian, an intuition that had been growing inside me as I had continually mulled over all that I had already learned.
As I approached darkness was falling, but not too dark enough for me to see what I had now expected – Hungarian Inscriptions:
“VASF UG GONY” / “THE IRON CURTAIN”
“..Rabok legyunk vagy szabadok?” (Petofi Sandor) / “Shall we live as slaves or free men?” (Sandor Petofi)
“ELZARTA KELETET A NYUGATTOL” / “IT ISOLATED THE EAST FROM THE WEST”
“KETTEOSZTOTTA EUROPAT LSA VILAGOT” / “IT SPLIT EUROPE AND THE WORLD IN TWO”
“ELVETTE A SZABABSAGUNKAT” / “IT TOOK AWAY OUR FREEDOM”
“FOGSAGBAN ES FELELEMBEN TARTOTT” / “IT HELD US IN CAPTIVITY AND FEAR”
“MEGKINZOTT ES MEGALAZOTT” / “IT TORMENTED AND HUMILIATED US”
“VEGUL LEBONTOTTUK” / “AND FINALLY WE TORE IT DOWN”
I missed this face of the monument the first time round because my interest and desire to enter the building was so intense.
I had missed a major component of my ‘why?’ question.
The Hungarian people themselves.
It confirmed a growing feeling inside me. A feeling that told me that they whilst they suffered greatly through those events, they still suffer now. That word ‘now’ again.
It was a very uncomfortable feeling and realisation. But however uncomfortable I could not dismiss it because it felt right. I had two final opportunities to question Janos, the answers would allow me to close my ‘why?’ question.