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Friday, 11 August, 2000, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
World War II prisoner coming home
Andras Tamas
Tamas spent 50 years in a Russia mental hospital
By Nick Thorpe in Budapest

The man believed to be the last remaining prisoner from World War II is due to arrive in Hungary after more than half a century away.

Little is known about the man, now 75, who was discovered recently in a psychiatric hospital at Kotelnich, 900km east of the Russian capital, Moscow.

But the Hungarian authorities hope that under their care, his exact identity and place of origin can be established.

Tamas
Locating Tamas's relatives will be difficult
Andras Tamas, if that is his real name, has been in captivity since the age of 19.

He was transferred to the psychiatric hospital at Kotelnich in 1947 but never learnt Russian.

He may have been a soldier in the Second Hungarian Army which was routed by the Russians at a bend of the River Don in January 1943.

No trace

But a search of Russian and Hungarian archives has so far failed to trace a man of that name.

Nor has his place of birth been established, although conversations with a Hungarian psychiatrist suggest that he may come from a village now in southern Slovakia, traditionally home to a large Hungarian minority.

His return to Hungary has been agreed by the Russian and Hungarian authorities in a bid to help him recover his memory.

A place has been prepared for him at a psychiatric hospital in Budapest where he will also receive a prosthesis to replace his right leg which was amputated three years ago.

Psychiatrists will continue the conversations with him begun 18 months ago in Russia.

Several possible relatives have already come forward but as tens of thousands of Hungarians died or were captured on the eastern front, the process of finding out for certain who he is and where he comes from could be a slow one.

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See also:

05 Aug 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Going home 50 years too late
31 Jul 00 | Europe
World War II prisoner emerges
02 Aug 00 | Media reports
Hungarian POW to go home after 55 years
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