To be born in Hungary in 1935, when fascism was already present in the country did not mean that I was born under a lucky star. My birthplace was a nice, small village, where my father served as teacher and choir-master. At that time electricity, tractor driven threshing machine, car and airplane seemed to be wonders for me. I do not talk about radio, since I do not know the name of the gadget, that consisted of a crystal, a needle and a hearing something. My father brought it from the closest city and we, his children were fighting for the earphone to listen to the music coming from the outer space.
My father was great man! He organized the building of a swimming pool and a brass band. He participated as worker as well in the construction of the pool, and the musicians were peasants who could play only on simple flutes before. Both the pool and the band must have been great success, because a street was named after him two years ago, though we left the village in 1940. The elders of the village still remembered him as a creative person.
We left, because teachers were needed in that part of Hungary, which was reunited - in accordance with the Vienna treaty - with the basic land, that was left as Hungary after the Trianon-treaty cut off more than half of the country. Have you ever heard of such cruel revenge?
WWII started around our arrival to Nagyvárad (nice city in Transylvania, now Oradea in Romania). My father was appointed soon headmaster of a school, I started my studies in the elementary school of the teachers' training-college of the town. Both proved to be important steps: my father had to prove that he was of clean Aryan origin (not Jew). I underwent one of the most important educational experiences of my life. We, small pupils used to mock Jews, wearing yellow star, bending out of the window of our class. Our form-master, having noticed this, commanded us to occupy our seats and explained for some 20 minutes that Jews are equal to the rest of us, they are just unfortunate people now. He was very brave: whoever was trying to save the Jews could be ordered to join them. Some 600,000 Hungarian Jews have been killed by their co-patriots and German fascists during the last two years of WWII.
One can never forget the pleasant experience of having gone through carpet bombing. I "enjoyed it", when 350 American-British Liberators were trying to destroy the railway station of the town. Our house was approx. 1 km far from it, but the closest bomb has blown up some 20 m from the house. Nobody can describe such an event.
We must have had good hearted guardian angels, because succeeded in escaping the occupation of Nagyvárad by the Soviet army and with that living under the worst communist regime, the Romanian one. O, my good God!
According to the opinion of Hungarian officers who fought there our truck was most probably the last one that left the town before the ring of occupants closed. Our travel from hell lasted a few months. We changed the means of transport from truck to stock car, then truck again, stopped at relatives twice, and finally could accommodate ourselves at a farm close to the present Austrian-German border. We fell into American captivity. The procedure was interesting: a jeep with four soldiers arrived to the house, the owner was asked if there were German military in the house, they looked around and left us in peace. Later we joined a refugee camp and after a couple of weeks were allowed to return home (again in stock car). The Americans were nice, polite, we have not heard a loud word from them.
Back home we learnt what permanent hunger means. My father could find job as teacher in a village just 16 kms from Budapest, but the country had world record inflation. For quite some time his salary was not enough to pay the next day for our - with my three brothers - tuition fee in the high school. My father had to sell pieces of clothing from the five suitcases that we could take with us from Nagyvárad. I remember having joined him a couple of times to a rag market of Budapest. Humiliating event. Our mother was unable to feed us properly. Four of us were taken to Belgium and France for feeding us up. I was selected by Belgian parents of also six children. The head of family was textile merchant of one of the most beautiful cities of the world, Bruges. The Lobelles dressed me cap-a-pie and treated me as their seventh child. Unforgettable benefaction.
I had to join the school as well, learned everything from Flemish, including French and Latin. The system of evaluation of the pupils' knowledge was strict: when I joined the class of 42 I was the last, when I left after half a year I was the 23rd. Good performance - I was told later.
When I returned home, the poverty still lasted. It was unavoidable to work every summer to earn enough to purchase some absolutely necessary clothing. It was very good to do physical work: you learn how difficult it is, and how much you may demand from your employees when you are boss!
I was among the best pupils during my schooling. This was one of the reasons I applied for studentship. The other was that my parents would not have been able to finance the academic learning of all their children. My application was approved and I was able to commence my studies at the Aviation-Technological University of Moscow. I was soon treated as one of the best students: my Russian was not only fluent, but starting from around the fifth semester my dreams appeared in Russian. My notes were widely used by local students.
And then my fate radically changed. It was my mistake. On the second day of the Hungarian revolution an officer, a high ranked officer of KGB - as I learnt later - hold a lecture about intervention of Britain and France at Suez and about happenings in Hungary. He declared the latter a counterrevolution, saying - among other accusations - that the roots of fascism are deep in the population of Hungary. I protested, sending him a post of two pages, protesting against such a stamp. I was certainly stupid not only because of my step in a dictatorship, but also for believing we are not fascists. I understand now, that the roots are really very deep.
I was kicked out in June next year. It was difficult to understand who took the decision to free me from the heavy burden of high technical sciences, I learnt only a couple of years ago, that the Hungarian side called me back. It took half a year to get the permission of the minister of education to complete my universities in Hungary. There remained nothing to do in this field after the revolution, therefore I decided to change my profession: graduated from the University of Economics, learned English, joined a foreign trading company. Travelled quite a lot, then I was appointed Dy Trade Commissioner in Bombay and after a gap of four years Trade Commissioner in Calcutta. The job and the weather were awfully difficult, but I liked the country, the very friendly, hospitable people, the beautiful surroundings, the fantastic culture and last but not least the challenge in my work. I was successful. The best proof of it was that the then chief minister, Jyoti Basu and Mrs. Basu accepted our invitation to have dinner with us on the very last evening before we left India for good.
My wife supported me all along.
I have two daughters, Anna, who completed her universities as MSc in Russian and is working with a travel agency. Our little daughter Amrita (nectar of everlasting life) was born in Bombay and started her studies in the International School of Calcutta. Her English is perfect, not like mine. She is gyneacologist, working on her PhD. We got from her the best possible present of like: two grandchildren. Both are very nice and more than clever. The grandson, Beni just finished the first class, Dorka will be four soon.
I started systematically write very late, at the age of 75. My seven Hungarian books are the products of two years.
Stay at Home, Uncle Sam was completed during my recovery from a very serious operation.
The subject of my books are definitely under the influence of poverty, hunger and cruelty I have seen during my long life in India, in the Soviet Union and also in my homeland, as a child during Horthy's reign,then after WWII in the first years of socialism and again now, after the country got rid of Soviet occupation, voted for capitalism and democracy. Who would have thought 23 years ago that a person and his small group would be able to destroy Hungary - in my opinion forever.
Where to find Antal Halmos online
Русская душа (музыка на многих струнах)
By Antal Halmos
Published: February 21, 2014.
Автор провёл четыре года в Москве, будучи студентом. Был одним из лучших, всё же, из-за болтовни в 1956 г. руководство института вынуждено было отчислить его из института. Декан института разрешил ему досрочно сдать экзамены, сделая возможным ему закончить четвёртый курс.
Он до старости лет носит в душе чуство благодарности тем, которые спасли ему год.
Но «струны» книги занимаются в основном жемч
Kolja, Son of People's Enemy
By Antal Halmos
Published: January 23, 2014.
This film novel enfolds a century, starting from the Hungarian Commune and ending with the return of the country to the capitalist system. It deals with important questions of love and responsibility, cruelty of the Soviet communist and the Hungarian socialist systems; with the role of intelligentsia in system-changes and also with the choreography of how dictators are born.
Stay at Home, Uncle Sam
By Antal Halmos
Published: July 6, 2013.
The author has written a diary of events during the preparation of the second war of the USA against Iraq and during the war itself. This book contains this diary and also the latest happenings of the Arab Spring in Libya and Syria.
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