On the 50th anniversary of the revolution, witnesses to the Hungarian uprising against Soviet rule recall their memories of that historic day.
VICKY BOND, SURREY
I was a 15-year-old student in 1956 and although not especially politically-minded, on 23 October I joined the demonstrators after school together with a lot of my friends. With my sister I escaped on 23 November leaving our parents behind. I am in the middle of writing my story for my three wonderful children and five. In my heart I will always be Hungarian and love going home.
CHARLES HALASZ, TORONTO
I am a 73-year-old Hungarian revolutionary, from the town of Szeged. I was a driving instructor for the Hungarian army. I and six of my colleagues were there at the start of the uprising; taking over the Hungarian security police headquarters. I was the head of the revolutionary council arms resistance group.
In two days and nights without sleep, we rounded up the Hungarian security police, and put them in prison, for later interrogation. But on the night of 31 October we were caught by the Russian army.
I and the others tried to escape, but we were captured by Russian soldiers at the town of Pecs, interrogated for three days by the new Kadar government police, but by some luck they let us go. Straight away we set out on a long complicated journey on foot to Austria. I never said goodbye to my parents.
Eventually, via a short stay in England, I came to Canada, Edmonton to be exact. I was lucky to send messages from Austria and England on Radio Free Europe to my parents that I was still alive and where I was. My poor mother thought that the Russians had marched me to Siberia.
My poor mother thought that the Russians had marched me to Siberia
Soon after I arrived in Canada, I got a job and made enough money to take the train to Toronto. I did all kinds of odd jobs until I learnt the plumbing trade. In 1993 I went back to Hungary to see my mother. She cried non-stop. Then I decided to go home for good.
I studied for one year, receiving a diploma in Police Sciences. For a while I gave lessons in the police academy in Szeged, but gave it up soon after for personal reasons. After my mother died in 1996, I felt alone and couldn't get used to the lifestyle. So I went back to Canada. Now I'm living on my pension. You could write a book about my life story.
I am sorry to see the skinheads and hooligans turn the 50th anniversary into riots. I know the socialist government is run by ex-communists, but as they voted them in, they have to vote them out.
LASZLO HEGE, NEW YORK
I was there in 1956. With all my teachers, classmates and friends we supported the revolution in every way because even as 15 to 16-year-olds we all desired nothing more than getting the country rid of the alien ideology of the communist system and the hated, exploitative domination and occupation by the Russians.
I was taking pictures of the events every day with a Leica camera and saved a large collection of exposed rolls of film which was taken away by the state police when they captured me.
After 10 days in jail I pretended that I was still a child and asked them to let me go to visit my grandmother for Christmas but instead of going home I immediately started to walk towards the Austrian border where I was captured again but escaped from them and finally, now wiser, hiding out for three days and nights. In the final hours of the year 1956, I walked over the now again, heavily fortified border zone to Austria.
Since then, after attending university in Mississippi, I have been a photojournalist, commercial photographer and a filmmaker in New York.
MARGO HIDVEGI, OTTAWA
The first photo used in the story about Hungary's 1956 brain drain, of the family trudging through the snow, could have been my family. It is correct down to every detail; the father carrying the two suitcases with me riding on his shoulders with my mum close behind, and it being deep, deep snow. In fact, I was on my dad's shoulders because I could not force my way through the drifts.
We escaped in the winter of 1957, travelling from Miskolc down to the Yugoslav border, and walked across. We played cat and mouse with the Hungarian border patrols and had several close calls. It was very tense, and I remember everything, despite my young age.