For several weeks now, I have been unable to turn on the TV news. The images coming from Ukraine are too similar to almost suppressed but not forgotten memories from my childhood. I was well on the way to my tenth birthday when in October of 1956 the revolution ignited in Budapest. A group of university students were protesting for increased freedom at the radio station when they were machine gunned by the AVO, the Hungarian secret police. News of the massacre spread with incendiary speed throughout the city, and over a 100,000 people gathered in outrage in front of the Parliament building. The government panicked, calling out the army to back up the secret police, ordering them to fire on the crowd. Rather than killing their own people, the army joined them in fighting against the AVO forces, as well as those of the Russian army stationed within the country. For a brief time, fighting with only rifles against the superiorly equipped enemy, bolstered by Western promises of aid, the so called Freedom Fighters were able to push the occupying forces outside of the city. After three weeks of heavy street to street fighting, during which over 50,000 Hungarians lost their lives, Russian heavy armor backed by their air force brutally wiped out all resistance. The promised Western aid never came.
I was living in the center of the city, just off one of the main ring streets. I remember watching a Russian tank roll down our street, and when my horrified parents yanked me away from the window, hearing the eruption of the tanks cannon, followed by the crumbling of the walls of the building across the street where my friend lived. He survived. His parent’s did not. I remember kids not much older than me, covering their bodies with newspaper, pretending to be dead, than waiting for a tank to roll by so they could toss a Molotov cocktail underneath. I recall dodging between buildings during lulls in the firefights, trying to make our way to a bakery to find bread to eat. I remember stuffing my pockets with bullets of all calibers lying scattered around the pavement, and being able to see inside apartments with pianos and furniture teetering on the edge of floors as the building walls had been blown away, like scenes inside a grotesque doll house.
I spent years reliving those nightmare scenes until my new life and some later therapy helped to extinguish them. I never thought they would come back. Until now. Today, it’s the Ukrainians who are dying, waiting for the help they were promised. May God have mercy on us all.
My God. I knew this. But I never really felt it in my gut until now.
Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for sharing your War story and experience. It’s never easy to recall something painful and horrifying. I feel badly for the Ukrainians too. No one should suffer because of one Man’s Evil desire to get what he wants.
Sadly, we, as humans, never seem to learn from what happened in our past. Thanks for your comment, and for taking the time to make it.
It takes courage to open one’s wounds and share with others, especially stories as painful as yours.
How can anyone read this and not feel empathy, not pause and hold your story close to one’s heart?
For many years I had no easy access to internet, so I posted when possible, but neglected keeping up with new subscribers and long-term supporters.. Thanks to your comment, I’m able to catch up, little by little with one – you. In another post you thanked someone for the comment and stated, ” …helping me feel I’m not simply yelling into the wind.” Our WordPress friend Hugh Curtler often stated similar thoughts, but he too kept us grounded and open minded.
Thank you for what appears to have been a life of serving – and mentoring – others.
Lisa in Ecuador
I’m glad we are able to reconnect with our stories. Our lives are so much richer when we are able to add the experiences of others to our own, and see the world through someone else’s eyes. Be well, and thank you for the encouraging words 🙂
Each time I tune in to world events, there are even more stories of man’s hatred of another. It must be hard to witness this via television and newspapers, vs here where unless I am online via computer, the world continues at a slow pace and little violence. Yes there are bad people, thieves, people waiting to pounce on the one who lets down his/her guard, but basically people are selfless here, and for that I am grateful. Thanks again for all that you do.