When the 65th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution against Russian communists was commemorated connected Oct. 23, Andras Pongratz of Scottsdale, Arizona, was among those speaking to thousands successful Budapest astir the value of that clip and the reasons for their uprising.
You’d ne'er cognize it by looking astatine the abbreviated and stocky, bespectacled silver-haired man, but helium was among those to propulsion the archetypal brick, per se, that would assistance ace the instauration of communism erstwhile helium was 17 years old.
For the past 3 weeks, the 82-year-old Pongratz has been successful Budapest. He was invited to his homeland by the Hungarian authorities for commemoration ceremonies. They volition retrieve the agleam autumn time erstwhile thousands of the younger procreation protested successful the streets, bombed Russian tanks with Molotov Cocktails, changeable astatine soldiers, and concisely became victorious successful their quest for state implicit rigid communist rules.
Pongratz helped a ample assemblage of radical sound down the statue of Joseph Stalin, viewed arsenic a awesome of hatred successful Hungary’s Heroes Square successful Budapest connected Oct. 23. After an effort to propulsion it down with ample cables failed erstwhile the cables snapped, a pupil astatine a adjacent welding schoolhouse brought his welder. Pongratz utilized it to chopped the Stalin statue disconnected astatine the knee, and overmuch to the sheer joyousness of the protesters, it toppled with a resounding thud.
Out of vexation and fury, Pongratz, immoderate of his siblings, and a younger procreation led a protestation that boiled implicit into somewhat much than 2 weeks of fierce battles. The ’56 Revolution that the Russians quashed by Nov. 10, resulted successful 2,500 deaths of Hungarians and 700 Red Army soldiers. In the aftermath of the revolution, 200,000 Hungarians fled their country, and astir 30,000 Hungarian refugees emigrated to the United States with the assistance of relatives and sponsorship.
They came to the United States for state of religion, state of speech, state of the press, and idiosyncratic freedom. They simply wanted a amended beingness and to flight the horrors of Communism, thing immoderate of the state fighters and refugees judge is creeping into America.
Pongratz could not beryllium reached for remark for a 65th-anniversary interrogation arsenic helium was pursuing an itinerary successful Budapest, but successful past interviews, helium ever has beamed with pridefulness for what helium and his chap Hungarians accomplished, albeit for a fleeting moment.
It each started with Hungarian assemblage students and young adults marching successful the streets. As the crowds grew and ripped retired sickles from Hungarian flags, sentiment grew successful beforehand of the vigor presumption and Parliament gathering and they shouted their demands for freedom. Then, soldiers connected the extortion of the Parliament gathering began shooting down into the crowd. Fierce warring followed for astir the adjacent 2 weeks with the Hungarians initially gaining the precocious hand.
The Russians thundered backmost into Budapest with a vengeance connected Nov. 3, and took backmost the country. The communists targeted those who participated successful the gyration for apprehension and galore with execution, truthful thousands of Hungarians didn’t discarded immoderate clip successful making a tally for the borders to flight their homeland.
Pongratz’s son, Eddie Pongratz, 51, of Tucson, said that remembering October 23 is precise important to his father, and to his family.
“The pictures that were taken during that clip don’t amusement everything,” Eddie Pongratz added. “The effects of communism were overmuch worse than that. It’s evident that with everything going connected present successful the United States, the medication and extracurricular forces are trying to propulsion america into communism.”
Andras and each 8 of his siblings came to the United States successful the aftermath of the gyration with their mother. Their begetter died successful Hungary from unwellness successful 1956.
Andras’ older brother, Gergely Pongratz, who helped re-assemble the canon successful Budapest’s Corvin Square that destroyed 15 Russian tanks, died of a bosom onslaught successful Budapest successful 2005 connected the grounds of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution Museum helium started.
In the aftermath of the ’56 Revolution, Andras Pongratz made it to the Austrian borderline successful a three-day trek earlier coming to Boston. After a harsh blizzard successful 1978, Pongratz moved to Arizona for its overmuch warmer climate.
In a past interview, Pongratz said, “When we gained the vantage implicit the Soviets, the fighters celebrated arsenic if they had finished the revolution.”
Eva Mitterman, 81, of Greenville, Ohio, remembers the actions of her husband, George’s actions arsenic a teen during the ’56 Revolution successful Budapest. George Mittermann, who died astir 2 years agone astatine property 89, fought successful the streets of Budapest against the Russians.
Armed with lone a Molotov cocktail, Mittermann was approaching a Russian vessel successful the street. The turret opened with an limb coming retired of it, waving a Hungarian flag. After Mittermann fto his defender down, a Russian worker emerged from the turret, firing galore shots astatine Mittermann. A slug went done Mittermann’s leg. Bleeding profusely, Mitterman was truthful charged with adrenaline, helium continued moving astatine the worker successful the vessel and threw the Molotov cocktail down the turret. He assumed the worker was burned inside.
Mittermann carried the scar from the gunshot coiled the remainder of his life, but ne'er regret.
“We hated communism,” Eva Mittermann said. “We wanted to unrecorded successful freedom. Living nether communism is nary good. Our sons, Frank and George Jr., cognize the value of what their begetter did to combat for our freedom.”
“It seems similar the authorities present is trying to power america more,” Eva Mittermann added. “They are telling us, ‘you indispensable bash this’, ‘you can’t bash that’. They person started controlling america done the pandemic.”
But arsenic acold arsenic the ’56 Revolution, it wasn’t needfully conscionable the warring and shooting successful the streets that were captious to Hungary pulling disconnected its short-lived victory.
It besides was roles radical played down the scenes that proved captious to Hungary’s efforts for the greater good. The Hungarians were successful it together.
Andras Dobo of Beavercreek, Ohio, a suburb southeast of Dayton, was 19 years aged and moving successful an amplifier presumption for the telephone institution successful Budapest.
Like immoderate different day, Dobo went to enactment connected Oct. 23. As his workday continued, the protests developed into the gyration and large battles for the adjacent respective days. The uprising drew contiguous planetary attention, and the satellite stood by and watched.
“As overmuch arsenic we could sabotage the subject lines, we did,” Dobo, 85, said. “To interrupt the connection of the communists trying to telephone successful to spot what was happening, we would unplug the telephone lines,” Dobo, 85, said. “When we did that, they’d telephone successful connected different enactment and wonderment what was happening. We would conscionable archer them it apt was due to the fact that of thing happening outside.
“When our reappraisal committee would travel backmost and analyse the wires and the u-plugs, they would conscionable accidental thing must’ve been incorrect with the lines,” Dobo added, “They didn’t cognize immoderate different. We had nutrient and water, and were capable to enactment and enactment astatine the telephone institution portion everything was going on.”
After the Russians regrouped and returned to Hungary with much tanks, weapons, and soldiers successful strategical points, Dobo saw however hopeless Hungary’s concern was. After consulting with his parents, Dobo decided it was champion to permission the country.
“It was conscionable a hopeless situation,” Dobo said. My begetter disagreed with maine and said I should stay,” Dobo said. “My parent said ‘maybe there’s amended opportunities elsewhere. I looked toward the West and the Uited States due to the fact that it was a spot known for freedom.”
Dobo near Hungary successful precocious November, 1956. He was walking with a radical of radical who were stopped by a defender by the Austrian border. The defender wondered if they had thing they could springiness him, and Dobo gave him a wrist ticker helium had inherited from his aunt.
Dobo archetypal came to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for an engineering job, but successful the aboriginal 1970s, Dobo and his wife, Janet, moved to Dayton, Ohio, aft helium accepted a occupation connection to go an technologist astatine Wright-Patterson Air Force Base successful Dayton.
“I was fortunate to travel to Dayton,” Dobo said. “At a clip erstwhile assorted taste groups were fading, Dayton inactive had a reasonably progressive Hungarian community.”
“In retrospect, looking backmost connected 1956, I deliberation what was astir important was that we crushed each the governmental views of the communists, their ideology,” Dobo said. “But it wasn’t permanent.”
Despite the disruptions presently happening successful the United States with the uncertainty surrounding the betterment from the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, workforce shortages, state prices skyrocketing and proviso concatenation issues, Dobo doesn’t judge the U.S. is slipping toward a socialist oregon communist government.
“I don’t spot immoderate similarities whatsoever,” Dobo said. “I inactive judge Capitalism is solid.”
Tommy Patay, an concern chemist who near Hungary to get distant from communism and settled successful Cleveland successful 1967 , believes that the existent medication is pushing the United States toward communism. “Very fast,” helium said.
Patay’s uncle, Karoly Balla, fought for Hungary successful World War II. He aboriginal was executed by the communists due to the fact that helium wasn’t conforming to their ideology and rules aft they took implicit the country, Patay said.
For the past 38 years, Patay has been a baker and has owned Tommy’s Pastry Shop successful the westbound Cleveland suburb of Lakewood. He believes the champion mode to clasp Communism astatine bay successful the United States is to bushed it astatine the ballot container astatine predetermination time.
“If we don’t,” helium said, “the United States volition lone person the remnants of Democracy.”
Emory Bogardy, a retired mechanical technologist who besides is simply a prolific watercolor creator successful Cleveland, besides near his location and household successful Esztergom, Hungary, adjacent Budapest pursuing the uprising. He and a radical of others equipped with guns, crossed the Danube River successful a vessel and made it into Austria.
The Hungarian Catholic religion owned millions of acres of onshore successful Hungary, and his begetter was the second-highest successful bid successful overseeing it.
However, the Communists took implicit each of the onshore during their regime.
“The Catholics were the large force to the communists,” Bogardy said. “If anything, communists hated state of religion.”
As acold arsenic the United States moving toward a Communist government, Bogardy believes that the radical who reason communism outnumber those who enactment it and yet would halt it from happening successful the U.S.
“The champion happening to bash is ballot definite radical retired of office,” Bogardy said.