Balf
Balf, 9494 Sopron, Hungary
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Raid in the train

Dostupné v: English | Magyar

They took a train in Kapuvár in the company of the smuggler on November 26, 1956. Éva Nádasy, ex-wife of a former cavalry officer, decided to leave Hungary after the 1956 Hungarian revolution with her teenager daughter Katalin Mester. It was their friends’ and acquaintances’ example that convinced them to fly the country and to try to join Katalin’s father, who was living in the United States. The train went towards Balf. Mester recalled: "I think that at least half of the passengers went to the border, too,” it was getting dark, "the light was on, a bulb gave the light, and we were sitting there in the train.” They held tight their bags and they were looking at the guide. It was a short way but it seemed to them infinitely long: "Then we heard the brakes creaking and shootings.” The smuggler broke the bulb immediately, he shouted at Katalin and her mother ’follow me!’ There was an embankment on the other side of the train, he pushed them off the carriage with their bags and he jumped off, too. "At the same time we heard soldiers, who had stopped the train, approaching. 'Stop!' Their steps grew louder, then they passed above our heads. I can recall that we were lying on the ground near the bank in the snow, in a territory with young trees and we were embracing our belongings,” recalled Mester. They were cold on the frozen ground. After a while the shootings became more distant, they heard the train begin to get in motion slowly. They were waiting. They raised their heads and they saw the train leaving in the dark. They had managed to escape the raid. Silent darkness surrounded them. The smuggler stood up and told them: 'Now come with me!' He guided them to his house so that the two women could relax a bit: As Mester remembers it, "It was a totally miserable dirty hole.”

Katalin Mester

Katalin Mester

Katalin Mester was born as Katalin Nádasy on January 28, 1944 in Budapest. She was born to a family of well-to-do businessmen in her mother’s line, in her father’s branch there were landowners and state functionaries. Her father Gyula Nádasy served as cavalry officer. During WWII he was on the Eastern front in the Soviet Union. Her mother escaped with her newborn baby to the West before the siege of the Hungarian capital in the winter of 1945. Also her father withdrew with his soldiers to Austria where he became a prisoner of war. At the end of WWII her mother returned with her child to the family house in Kőbánya. Her father returned to Hungary, too, after having been released. He couldn't continue his life as an officer, so he directed the family’s Vince Benes’ Chemical Factory. In 1948 the communist state security forces contacted him as an ex-officer and they tried to recruit him to be an informer. He chose to leave Hungary definitively. He managed to escape across Lake Neusiedl. At first he settled in Frankfurt am Main at his sister’s, then he moved to the United States. After the nationalization both of the family factory and other family properties the family lost its means of subsistence. Her mother was forced to sell their house. They moved to the flat of the paternal grandparents, which was transformed to co-tenancy in the communist regime. Her mother learned to be a secretary, then she worked as a draftsman, but as an emigrant’s and officer’s wife she lost her jobs one after the other. Finally she was engaged at VIFOGY as a blue-collar worker. Katalin Mester spent her childhood with her paternal grandfather Dezső Nádasy and she attended a primary school in György Dózsa street where children of communist cadres learned. After his grandfather’s death her mother divorced, then she married the solicitor Béla Spett. The family moved to a new flat in Buda, and Katalin Mester could continue her studies in a primary school with children of middle-class families. Her family lived the 1956 Hungarian revolution in their flat which was near to the Southern Railway Station on the road where the Soviet troops came into Budapest. A few friends of her mother emigrated after the revolution and also her mother decided to leave Hungary. Katalin Mester and her mother went to Kapuvár by train, where acquaintances of the family helped them to find a guide. They took a train with their guide, but they had to jump off it because of a raid in the outskirts of Balf. They were lying on the ground until the train got in motion again with those who were arrested by the soldiers. They could relax a bit in the miserable house of the smuggler, then they left for the border across the stubble. The man who led them, returned home and left in the lurch the two women. They continued alone. The mother was caught by the barbed wire which had been toren. Katalin freed her and they went on the nobody’s land. They knew that they had to go in the direction of an illuminated church tower, but since there were a lot of hills around, from time to time they lost sight of their aim. Also a brook hindered them. They crossed it with their bags. It was dawn when they felt some dung. They understood that they arrived to Deutschkreutz. They contacted Katalin Mester’s father from Wien who invited them to the United States. The Nádasy family was re-joined at Christmas 1956 in Buffalo New Jersey. Katalin Mester and her mother settled down there as well. Katalin Mester finished her schools in Buffalo. She had a daughter from her first marriage. She lives in California with her second husband, the chemist professor Zoltán Mester, son of the former state secretary Miklós Mester.

Balf

Dostupné v: English | Magyar

Balf is a Hungarian village in the southwestern part of Lake Neusiedl. It is some kilometers away from Sopron, the economic and cultural center of the region. Balf has approximately 1,000 inhabitants. The village, which has become famous for being a water therapeutical centre, had begun to develop in the second half of the 19th century, thanks to the construction of the railroad. After the Trianon peace treaty in 1920, by which Hungary lost, among others, its elegant holiday resorts, the health spa of Balf started to thrive. The village is connected to the towns and cities of Western Hungary by regular bus and railway services. The Győr-Sopron-Ebenfurth Railway is next to the village. Like in other places of Burgenland, in the course of WWII there was a labor camp in Balf. Here about 2,000 Jewish people died, among them the Hungarian writer Antal Szerb. After WWII the German inhabitants were forcibly moved to Germany in May 1946. Both health tourism and wine-growing, similarly to other villages of the Fertő region, have played an important role in the life of Balf for several decades. The spa was nationalized under the communist regime, then after the slow progress of tourism in the sixties it was modernized, the dirty springs were blocked, new wells were dug. A new health resort and hospital was built in 1975. Since then it has been an important tourist center. Balf's popularity stemmed from the fact that it could be reached relatively easily in the years of the Iron Curtain, and as a result those who planned to fly over Hungary across the lake or the green border illegally often chose it as a starting point for their escape.

Balf

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Raid in the train

Raid in the train

Katalin Mester
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