Mohács
Mohács, border city · Mohács, Hungary
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First attempt to flee the country: Swimming across the Danube

Available in: English | Magyar

László Deres employed for years to get away from Hungary to the free world. Laszlo had not received a passport because of his origin, and therefore wanted to defect. He planned the route beforehand. He had bought two inner tubes and flippers to aid our swimming, to make the trip safer. He and his friend packed up everything. His wife did have a passport, so she waited for him in Batina, (the eastern bank of the Danube),: “We went down to the Danube bank. No sooner had it got dark than we stripped at a deserted place real quick, chucked the clothes into the bag and plunged into the water! This was back in August, ’74. And so we drifted down the Danube. At one point the river was lit across its banks but we took no time to swim beyond it, and blended back into the dark. We might have spent about 5 hours in water. Luckily, there was no traffic on the river at that time. We crawled out on the left bank. I had a bit of a mishap, though. Being in the water drained me so much that I got dizzy and dropped my purse with all the documents and some money in it. I could hardly find it! […] Finally, we found everything, and then we walked on along the Danube, in about half an hour we got to a paved road. I could see some building there and I checked the sign which said ’ulice’. >There you go! We are not in Hungary anymore!< And then, we took a turning to the right, and there was some bright light, and there was my wife in the Trabant waiting for me!”

Deres László

Deres László

László Deres was born in 1948, in Gölle, Somogy county. His grandparents were farmers and were labeled as kulaks in the Rákosi era. His father worked as a miner in Komló. László completed his secondary school studies in Dombóvár and had been checked on by the AVH several times. He graduated from secondary school in 1966. He, subsequently, continued his studies in a higher vocational school training water experts, but dropped out after the first term. From 1967 onwards he was doing his military service in Taszár as a driver. On completing his military service, he worked as a miner and a driver alternatively. In August 1974, he fled the country illegally swimming across the Danube at Mohács to the other side. Alongside with his expecting wife, they made it to the Yugoslavian-Italian border but due to exhaustion they gave it up and hitch-hiked back to Letenye, where his wife crossed the border check using her passport, whereas he swam across the River Mura at Letenye. He was sentenced to 8 months' suspended imprisonment. In August 1975, he made another attempt swimming across the River Drava at Heresznye. He stayed at a refugee camp in Latina, Italy. He arrived in the United States in 1976 but being unable to overcome his home sickness, he was determined to come back to Hungary. He flew to Rome in 1977 and got to Hungary via Yugoslavia, where he was arrested, and extradited to the Hungarian authorities. He had been sentenced to two years and four months for leaking military intelligence and illegal border crossing. After his release he worked in Komló as a professional driver and hit a drunk man through no fault of his own, who subsequently died of his injuries. As a result, László Deres was arrested and served a 9 month sentence. After being released, he got a job in the mine. Between 1988 and 1990 he worked as a taxi driver, which was followed by a period of forwarding as a truck driver and working as a bus driver. He retired in 2010.

Mohács

Available in: English | Magyar

Mohács, the southernmost Hungarian settlement on the River Danube, has twenty-thousand inhabitants. One of the major attractions of the city is the annual ’busójárás,’ a local farsching tradition. Most of the settlement is situated on the right bank, where 95% of the population lives. The left bank side of the city, (Újmohács), has 700 inhabitants. Since 2007 onwards Mohács has been the border port of the EU. Between 1918 and 1921 the city was under Serbian occupation.The Trianon Treaty established the border to the south of Mohács. After 1956 the city underwent some heavy industrialisation. A number of housing estates had been built under socialism. Thanks to its place in the road, railway, and waterway network of the country, it has become a major commercial centre of Hungary.

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