The Hungarian poet György Faludy weighs up whether to stay in Hungary or to leave at the start of the the Second World War.  He chose to leave, and ended up serving in the US army before making a fateful (and nearly fatal) post-war decision to return.  

The phrasing made me laugh though its implications are deadly serious and painfully pertinent now.  Try this simple thought experiment – replace the dictator’s name with one in the news today, and replace Hungary and the Hungarian language with Ukraine and Ukrainian, and see how contemporary it feels. 

Yet I had good reasons to leave.  I knew that if I remained I would have to fight in the Hungarian Army as an ally of the Germans.  I knew that if Hitler won the war, Hungary would disappear from the map and a few decades hence only the Hungarian serfs of the German landowners would still speak Hungarian when, after a long day’s work, they stretched out their aching bones in the darkness of the stable. 

Source: György Faludy, My Happy Days in Hell, trans. Kathleen Szasz (London: Penguin, 2010), p. 4

Photo credit: Christian Lue at unsplash


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