Uncle Feri, the national guardsman from Pasarét

For my 18th birthday I received a lovely bird carved from wood, a heron, from my father’s close friend Ferenc Csapó, or Uncle Feri as we called him. I always loved him and enjoyed his visits since he always had something kind to say. Uncle Feri was a carpenter and frequent guest at our place, occasionally even joining us for Sunday lunch, since he lived alone in the early 1990s. Even before the system change he had told us stories of how he had fought during the revolution, and he always talked about this so naturally as if he was discussing an order he had just received for a new piece of furniture. Uncle Feri knew that I was interested in history and planned to study it in college, so on one occasion with a secretive face he told me he had brought something for me, and showed me his national guard identification papers.

Uncle Feri was an important figure for the national guard contingent operating in Pasarét, which belonged to the Széna Square group. The importance of the national guard’s role increased following October 28th, since the local police had by this time completely disbanded. There were ten of them in total, armed with four tommy guns, a machine gun, five rifles, two pistols, and seven hand grenades. Uncle Feri’s friends emigrated after the revolution was crushed, but he remained in Hungary. During the reprisals he was sentenced to prison, a sentence that he served, and for years afterward he was not permitted to work in his trade and led a difficult existence.

After a glass or two of wine, Uncle Feri would also tell the story of how he was present when György Marosán, one of the infamous politicians of the era, was arrested. According to Uncle Feri, Marosán was marched from his apartment to Maros Street, but then later set free without being assaulted. He discussed this in an objective manner as well.

After the fall of the communist regime, Uncle Feri, together with other revolutionaries from 1956, became eligible to receive an apartment in the Mátyásföld area of Budapest. My father, who was a college professor, wrote his application for him, and Uncle Feri received his flat and soon moved in. As luck would have it, Uncle Feri soon found love in this complex for 56ers. His life finally took a turn for the better, but we saw him less since Mátyásföld was far from us. Of course, the most important part was that for our friend who had been a revolutionary in 1956, things finally came together.

Eszter Zsófia Tóth