Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

My great uncle: WW2 soldier

Arpad Gelenyi
Arpad Gelenyi remained in a work-camp in Siberia for over three years
Armistice Day, which marks the symbolic end of World War 1, is also a time to recognise the efforts of service men and women in other conflicts.

Noemi writes about her great uncle, who was a soldier in the Hungarian army during World War 2.

Noemi, 12, London
My great uncle gets captured
By Noemi, 12, London

Many families have memories of soldiers who went away at times of trouble, leaving behind anxious friends and relatives, and then came back with experiences that they had never thought they would get - and my family is no exception.

Arpad Gelenyi, my great uncle, was a soldier in the Hungarian army at the time of World War 2, when Hungary was an Axis power.

He was fighting the Russians when he was taken prisoner and taken to a work-camp in Siberia, where he would remain for the next three and a half years, working as a carpenter.

At the same time as my great-uncle was fighting, the Bremen Philharmonic Orchestra were touring the front - and when he was captured by the Russians, so was the orchestra!

Camp concerts

At the beginning of their stay, the rules were very strict and they were not allowed to play their instruments, but as time went by, these rules were relaxed and they were allowed to play again.

Noemi's uncle (right) with fellow Hungarian army soldiers
Noemi's uncle (right) and fellow Hungarian army soldiers
All the instruments had been confiscated when the musicians were first captured, and so my great-uncle found himself making instruments as part of his work in the camp.

When they were ready, the orchestra started to put on concerts in the camp, and my great uncle was even asked to sing in one of the performances.

Telling tales

When he came back, he brought with him many stories of this foreign country, which fascinated the family; most of whom had never been abroad and who were extremely interested in this other place.

When he came back, he brought with him many stories of Siberia which fascinated the family; most of whom had never been abroad and who were extremely interested in this other place.

Some of the things he told us - tales of snow up to your neck, and skiing on planks of wood - have stayed in the family for years, being passed down from each generation to the next.

But the most notable fact of all, at least to my branch of the family, is that he gave my mother her first ever taste of wine!

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