Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Daniel Szabo
SZABO: The most difference was that you were safe as Jews. The political situation changed gradually. The Soviet army was kept in the countryside. But the communist leaders who were in Moscow came back and joined the coalition government. There was a real democracy in 1946, '47, '48. And I even remember seeing American soldiers there. I don't know if they were with the American Embassy, but people loved Americans. The Hungarians were crushed when FDR died. And then gradually the Communist Party undermined the government, and eventually took over probably in late 1948, the beginning of 1949. That's when my mother decided we had to leave. So, there were efforts to indoctrinate adults to come into the Communist Party. And you had to have a Communist Party membership to do anything. My mother refused. Nothing happened very much.
Q: How were you able to live?
SZABO: Essentially, my mother opened this business. Well, first she went to the countryside to trade some fabrics for food. I think my mother was about this high.
Q: We're talking about a little over four feet tall.
SZABO: Maybe five. This woman put a backpack on her back and went to the countryside dressed in pants. I don't know how she survived, but she came back with something that I think weighed as much as she did, full of eggs and bacon and you name it. Then she ended up opening this store, a retail store which had women's fabrics and made clothing, which was handmade clothing for women. My sister worked there, too.
Q: How about you?
SZABO: I was a kid. The initial year was really very difficult. People had no food, no money. There was high inflation for a couple of years. Schools were a mess. The first year I think I went to some kind of a public school. I ended up going to the Benedictines for a year or two. Then I went to a technical high school, where one of my teachers was a guy who was a Nazi before and became an ardent Communist. We used to have arguments. So it was a good thing that we decided to leave. I was fifteen, and I couldn't keep my mouth shut. I didn't realize again how much danger I was in.