Love and death in the 1956 Revolution
Johnny Maroon-Beret was the nickname given to János Bárány, the young leader of the Tompa Street revolutionary group, because he always wore a maroon-colored beret during the revolution. He fought bravely with his group, and even threw Molotov cocktails at Soviet tanks. One time while Bárány was standing on a balcony, it was struck by a shell and the force of the blast launched him back into the building.
“I then found myself face-to-face with two machine-gun toting Russians,” he said. “I was surprised, but they were so confused as well that when I jumped into the courtyard, instead of firing at me they threw a hand grenade, which meant that they had to pull back from its explosion, leaving me with enough time to climb over the fence and get out of there. A family about seven houses over took me in and helped me immediately,” Bárány recounted to the newspaper Magyar Ifjuság on November 3rd, 1956.
The days grew colder as the revolution continued into November, so the fighters would go to the apartment houses in Pest where the residents gave them warm soup and tea. That’s how Bárány met Klára Hajnal, who stayed together with him to the end.
“I remember that it was brutally cold and rainy,” Hajnal recalled. “The weather was really bad during those days, so much so that these unfortunate boys were shaking from the cold…As it would happen, Johnny found himself with us. Therefore, I probably invited him… that evening… we invited him to dinner to warm up, after which he always visited us.” That’s how the story of the love shared by Klára Hajnal and János Barány began.
Bárány was the type of group leader who was strongly opposed to looting. When he realized one of the kids in his group wanted to steal a camera, he took the boy’s gun away. “He was quiet and unassuming, being one of those to set an example through his actions not his words,” István Angyal, the leader of the Tűzoltó Street group said of him.
Bárány continued to fight after the Soviet invasion of November 4th. When all hope was lost, he and his fiancée attempted to flee to Austria on November 15th, but they were caught at Horvátzsidány. Bárány then returned to his place of work, where he was elected to be part of the workers’ council that had formed there. This also shows how great his organizational skills were, since the others there listened to what he had to say.
Arrested on December 13th, he was sentenced to death on May 22nd, 1958 and executed on February 18th, 1959. János Bárány, the brave group leader, gave his life for Hungary’s freedom.
Eszter Zsófia Tóth