A striking example of the tendency of totalitarian ideologies to corrupt the mind: no-one means what they say, nothing is as it seems, distrust every word, everyone. Everything is political.
A passing comment on the beauty of the sunset? Surely a trap or a lure!
This is from Faludy’s memoirs of his ‘happy days in hell’, namely in post-war Communist Hungary, where he was arrested and interrogated, threatened with execution and then given a 25 year sentence to a labour camp. Due to the post-Stalin thaw, he was released three years later, one of only 20 survivors from a peak population of 1,700.
‘What a beautiful sunset,’ I said when Biro re-entered the room with the coffee. He threw me a frightened, helpless glance; it was obvious that in the circles in which he moved they never discussed such a subject. He placed the tray on the table and instead of joining me at the window, he sat down. It appeared to me as if he were thinking; thinking very intensely. He was probably trying to guess whether there was a trap in my question and how he should reply to it.
So, how’s the sunset where you are? Or sunrise? May they be resplendent.
Source: György Faludy, My Happy Days in Hell, trans. by Kathleen Szasz (London: Penguin Classics, 2010 (1962)), p. 230
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