Marianne gives a vivid description of leaving Hungary without passports and just the clothes that she and her husband were wearing. She explains what happened to them when they arrived in Austria and why they were given permission to come to Britain. Her positive feelings on arrival in Britain are clearly evident.
ML: And then we went, we went, we came out. And then it was very difficult because we didn’t have a passport, we couldn’t get a passport so we had to… through contact, we had a contact with a fisherman who was living up at Lake Fertö, which is a lake where half of the lake is in Hungary and the other half of the lake is in Austria. And then we went and spent the night in his house. We gave him all our savings and then we didn’t have a penny on us anymore, nothing, just the clothes that we had on. And then he took us into his fishing boat and we went up to the middle of the lake and left us at midnight in the lake and then he went back because he said ‘The border guard is coming now’ and they would catch him. So we were hiding in a…
INT: In a cabin in the boat? Were you in the boat?
ML: No, no, no, he went back with the boat to Hungary.
ML: So we were hiding in the…how do you call this?
ML: Not trees…
INT: Were you on the other side of the lake, in Austria?
ML: No, no. We were sitting on the middle of the lake.
INT: The middle, were you on an island?
ML: A little island or something. And we were staying there and he went back with the boat to Hungary and said to me ‘I’ll come back when the change of guard is over. It will be safer’.
ML: And we were left the two of us and it was very, very cold. It was wintertime and wet and cold. And we wanted to light a fire, a bonfire, to warm us up but the match didn’t light because it was too wet so we were afraid that he might not come back.
ML: And he took all our money and everything. But he was honest enough and sure enough he came back. He came back early morning and he picked us up again. And then was…rowed to the other side to Austria and then we came, climbed out of the boat and started to walk up on to the pier and then he just turned back and went back to Hungary. And we were walking by this time the Austrian Border Guard was looking for people because they knew that Hungarians are coming through/coming over.
ML: And they picked us up and then they said, the first thing they said, they looked at us and, ‘Oh you, you are ‘schmutzig’ or something, I don’t know, because we were all covered with mud.
INT: They called you dirty? Schmutzig.
ML: Yes and then he took us in to his house, you know, this…and they gave us a cup of tea and warmed us up and later on they took us further up into Vienna where there was already a group of people in one of these camps. And that was that; that’s how we left Hungary. And after that there were people came, a lot of people went to the American Embassy and applied for visa and entry to America and then a lot, quite a lot of people from the British Embassy came as well and they were looking for people. They said they need miners and they need teachers and they need doctors and then they selected the people that they needed then put us in the boat and we came to Dover.
INT: Yes. Was your husband Mr…Doctor Lazlo was it?
INT: A doctor.
INT: And so he could come to Britain because he was.
ML: Yes. And then a lot of miners came as well because at that time I didn’t know, we didn’t know anything about it but it was the miners’ strike.
INT: Oh yes.
ML: And they had to replace the miners in Britain.
ML: So they replaced them with Hungarian miners.
ML: And I suppose shortly after a lot of miners left to Canada and some of them went back to Hungary.
ML: Because British miners said you are breaking solidarity with them and international solidarity with miners and all that sort of carry on.
ML: Well, so anyway that’s how we came to Britain and I remember we came and saw, the first time I saw the white cliff of Dover and I couldn’t believe it, it was something out of this world.
And then there was the woman’s voluntary service and they gave us tea and bread and butter, all free of charge. So we stuffed ourselves with bread and butter and tea. So that was it. We came to Britain and then here again there were some people…there were disused old army camps and that’s where they placed us, in army camps down in the south of England. And then people started to go to work and moved on and there was no problem. My husband got a job straight away with British drug houses as a researcher and then…but he wanted to go back to university so after that he moved to London and he was doing his PhD, St Thomas’s hospital. And then he got a job in Edinburgh University after that and then we came up, moved up, to Edinburgh in ’59.