Zoltán Gúth

* 1929  

  • "Let’s return to the crossing of the border, to this very occasion. You were travelling by train, you waited for the sign, and what happened then? A: Everybody began to jump off. Q: You, too? A: Certainly. At least twenty of us. Q: Did twenty people get off? A: At least. They crowded the land like mantises. There were at least in twenty, of not more. I didn’t count them. The ticket inspector had come, checked our tickets and had said: „It was unnecessary to buy these tickets!” „Well – I replied – we were told by the other railwayman to buy them because control might come, or something like that.” „Control – he seemed suprised – who is controlled here, who controls here what?” And he added: „Just look at what will happen here!” When the train stopped, he told us: „Go now!! Q: How did the train slow down? A: It could go dead slow. It didn’t stopped. It went dead slow. I asked: „Didn’t this give you any problem? Doesn’t it cause you any trouble?” He was surprised: „Here? Who, what? We repeat this every day.” Q: Was it so public, wellknown that one could cross the border in this way? A: Certainly! Also these guys might have heard something about it in Sztálinváros and chose to come to this place. Otherwise almost everybody could cross the border, even if rarely somebody was caught… When we went down to drink, we spoke to a guy who had been caught the day before. He had said that he was brought here by car, four of them, but after it the soldiers turned back, two Russians. The Russians had gone and had brought them back. There wasn’t any control on the border those days! People crossed the border by cars. Big money could have been earned by this way. Q: Let’s continue when you jumped off, what happened then? A: Well, some trumbled, others didn’t. Everybody ran up and down and it was then that we crossed the border. There was a watercourse with some run-down pieces of a former bridge etc., you could cross there. It wasn’t a big watercourse, you could cross it easily. Q: What distance did you walk? A: Twenty minutes, half an hour, we hurried. There were families with children, with small children, husband, wife and a small child, it was a small child. Some people walked with baggages, but we didn’t have anything, I myself had an officers’ bag, a Soviet officers’ bag, a map bag. Q: And did you meet somebody on the road? A: Only those who came with us. Q: Neither border soldiers? A: Nobody, the border wasn’t guarded. Q: But you’ve said that there were some Russians. A: Russians? Yes, there were, but we didn’t meet them. Q: And did this group which jumped off together continued to walk together? A: They were with me. Q: But I intended all those who jumped off together not only the four guys. A: Of course, we went in the same direction. Q: Did you go in one group? A.: There were already some of us, because when we got off the train, the majority of the travellers had jumped off and they showed us where to go, I think because there were people who knew it. On the other side of the border there were both Austrians and Hungarians. Q: These people were waited? A: Obviously. Q: And where did you go across the border, at a village? A: No. Q: Where did you arrive? A: Outside a village, I didn’t even know the village on the other side of the border. The train couldn’t slow down in te village to let the people get down, Soviet troops or others were there. Q: And what did you say how much time… You said you had walked how much, twenty minutes, about? A: I don’t know, fifteen-twenty minutes, we didn’t waste time, a lot of people ran, those who hadn’t got big baggages ran. There were also young people, the majority of them was young. And the guys I led on were even young, seventeen-eighteen years old. Q: How did you know that you were already on the side of the border? A: There wasn’t border then. Q: What do you mean? A: Well, the barbed wire fence was dismantled everywhere where people had crossed the border, they did it, they stepped on it. The border might have been there. And there was the plowed up land etc. and every defence tools had been distructed by then. The people tore it down, those who had gone by before. People had crossed the border there for monthes. November, December, January, they crossed the border there all the winter, they walked across the border."

  • "Well, peculiarly we got there quite early, that is to say we arrived there well before the evening. I said we wouldn’t leave in the night. We – both me and the boys - had got enough money to go to a hotel. There weren’t any free rooms, but we were told that there were still free places.There were two beds in one of the rooms, two Hungarian officers occupied them, and they were asked to move in one bed, so two boys could occupy the other, and they brought a troundle-bed, too, so we could sleep there. Then we went down and since the restaurant was open all night there were a lot of people there, plenty, it was thronged, people were on foot, every table was occupied. Everybody was dressed, ready to leave. I asked: „What are you waiting for?” „Well – said somebody – at such and such time… Where are you going to?” I said: „Just across.” „By train?” – he asked. I replied yes. „Well, there is a train which leaves twice a day, and you should do this and that… the station…” He was a railwayman and he said he was waiting for a van, because at about eleven and twelve it should arrive, and about twenty or thirty persons could get on it. But there were families with children. We went to sleep. I didn’t want to leave at night but first of all they asked a lot of money, 1000 forints for the transfer. It was big money that time, there were who earned only 200-300 forints a month. People were brought across the border simply by trucks, there wasn’t any strict control there. We found the two officer there, we entered, we had a little money, we stood at the tap, we drank a little red wine, even more than we should have, I drank a lot those years, and then we went up to our room. The officers didn’t say a word, we drank and we got asleep soon."

  • "I was going to Dunántúl, to Hajmáskér. I would have gone there. I had to account there, money, people owed me there and I went to collect the loan. And at Pusztaszabolcs or where, I don’t remember precisely, I saw, there were young guys, they were drinking. They were talking and I heard what they were speaking about, what they would do on the border. They talked loudly, they said bullcraps, they were a bit tipsy. They were about seventeen-eighteen, one of them was only sixteen. Q: How many guys were there? A: They were in four. They were talking and they mentioned Sztálinváros. I asked then: „Are you from Sztálinváros?” „Yes, we are.” I said: „Also my brother was there, a folk dancer.” „Who is he?” I gave his name: „Béla Gúth.” „Really?” – he said , they danced together, with Béla! My brother was then twenty, nineteenn. Then I asked: „Where are you going to? I’ve heard that…” „Correct, we are going to the West.” „And do you start off in this way? Without anything? Have you got maps?” „No, we haven’t. We will manage it someway. A lot of people do it.” Then I said: „Look. I know the border quite well, I speak Russian, whatever may happen, let’s go together.” I had my identity card with me, with a stamp, with a Russian stamp. I was working for the Russians. And then we went through Pápa, to Sopron. Q: Didn’t you go directly? A: But we did, directly. Q: But didn’t you have, Uncle Zoli, something on? Did you say that you would escort them right then? A: Of course. I said I lead them to the border, I would lead them across and then I would come back. I didn’t want to leave the country, only the four guys, they were totally broken down. Q: Why did you say you knew the border? Had you ever been before on the Austrian border? A: Well, I worked for the Russians. Q: Exactly, at Hajmáskér, but what has it to do with…? A: At Hajmáskér. And there were big panels there, there was everything, there were lessons there and sometimes I myself sat down there and listened to. There wasn’t any problem, I was simply sitting there. Q: I understand! And there were lessons on the border defence! A: Correct! And how it is built up at different places etc., these things were treated there. Q: So you learned, you listened to how the border defence was structured?! A: Right! There were pictures, sketches there, everything. Other experience I hadn’t got before."

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    Tiszaújváros, 29.04.2013

    (audio)
    duration: 01:36:44
    media recorded in project Iron Curtain Stories
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He whistles, a short and a long sigh, slows down, and it’s time to jump down

Gúthz_1957Bp.jpg (historic)
Zoltán Gúth
photo: családi fotó

Zoltán Gúth was born on November 1st, 1929 in Maglód. His father was a tradesman and his mother a secretary. His mother died early and his father remarried. After elementary and secondary school, he attended a commercial school but he never finished it. At the end of WWII, he was mobilized and served in the anti-aircraft defense. In 1948, after crossing the Soviet border illegally, he was brought to Siberia to a variety different penal camps. He spent two years in a gulag, then four and a half year in exile. In Siberia, he married a Russian woman and they had two children. His family followed him to Hungary after he returned. He was condemned for four months for allegedly agitating disillusion with the regime in his working place. During the 1956 Hungarian revolution, he took part in the fight against Communist forces. After 1956, his family decided to return to the Soviet Union. He tried to follow them, he attempted to cross the border to the Soviet Union and was caught both times and condemned. After his release, he was ordered to settle down in Borsod county. He lived in Tiszaszederkény (later Leninváros, Tiszaújváros). He divorced his Russian wife, remarried and had three children. He worked as painter in the town and all over in the country. He retired in 1989. After the change of the political regime, he got amends for the political persecution he had suffered.