Wounds inflicted that would not heal

The fate of Tibor Sörte, who was 23 years old in 1956, further shows how the post-revolution reprisals overseen by Communist Party chief János Kádár reached into the most intimate parts of people’s lives. As it so happened, during the revolution, Tibor caught a bullet on his wrist that hit an artery, and had he not been taken immediately to the hospital, it certainly would have been the end of him. After bandaging him up, the doctor in charge at the Szent János Hospital asked Tibor to leave, since the doctor knew that the Soviet troops or their henchmen were searching the hospitals for people with gunshot wounds and would throw them into jail. From there, Tibor fled to an abandoned apartment belonging to one of his brother’s friends who had already left for the West. The injured revolutionary was joined by Veronka, the volunteer nurse who had tended to his wounds in the hospital. Love had blossomed between the two.

Once he was back on his feet in December 1956, Tibor and Veronka participated in new revolutionary plans. The two collected weapons in response to the slogan “In March we start again!”, which became popular but ultimately did not amount to a resumption of the armed struggle. In April 1957, the two married, but their happiness did not last long. Their plans were revealed to the authorities, and they were both arrested October 8, 1957. Both were tortured in prison, and Tibor was beaten until he collapsed onto the floor, where they continued to kick him. Consequently, he lost the use of his left leg below the knee. After the beating, he was dragged by his pants back to his cell and taken down a flight of steps so that his head struck each and every step on the way down.

During this time, the young couple could not see each other and only met again at the trial three months later. The 23-year old girl had changed, however. Due to the torture, she had become withdrawn and also revealed to her husband that she had miscarried. Sacrificing himself, Tibor took responsibility for everything and consequently his wife was acquitted. She was referred for mental health treatment, while he received a sentence of several years for hiding weapons. While he was in prison, Veronka wrote Sándor a letter with the awful news that they would not be able to have any more kids. Tibor, who was released during the partial amnesty of 1960 (for those with sentences of ten years or less or who were political prisoners) did everything in his power to comfort his young wife. His wife, however, was not as happy to see him as he was due to the mental scars she still carried, and during an unguarded moment while they were on vacation, she threw herself beneath a passing train. Their tragedy was one example of the horrific reprisals the regime carried out against the freedom fighters and how the machinery of János Kádár’s dictatorship wrecked people’s private lives.

Bence Csatári