Interviews:

Bowie,
Robert

Khrushchev,
Sergei

Kiraly,
Bela

Lowis,
Flora

Pongracz,
Gergely

Vajda,
Anika

Wheeler,
Charles



     
   


INTERVIEW WITH DR BELA KIRALY

Continue

INT: I will take you on to where you were back at headquarters after meeting Ambassador Andropov.What then happened?

BK: Well then we went back to our basical (sic) consolidation, . ... guard for us, consolidation. And we were tremendously satisfied, and we had a happy twenty four hours, so that the first surprise came that while the Soviet first note suggested an immediate negotiation, in a few hours they told, well it will be enough tomorrow, on the third. Now there was speculation, why did they not change their mind, why did they postpone? And well, probably they little, make ... money I believe, that the, Andropov and his military advisers saw that we were so suddenly, promptly, with force in this part, probably they had to make a little final more precise organisation for the onslaught, so they postponed by twenty four hours, or a little bit more, the start of the, of the shooting. Not the aggression, because the aggression was already on since the night of October thirty, thirty first. Now, next day the negotiations started, all day long, and there was even a final agreement, on the withdrawal, on the safeguarding of Soviet war memorials, on the supply, everything, the date was January fifteenth, nineteen fifty seven.

And in the evening, the Hungarian delegation was supposed to go back to the Soviet headquarters ... ... island, south of Budapest. Practically sign the document, because both delegation in the meanwhile were supposed their government, and ask for the endorsement. The... I even hear some people, some nave people say why did they go into the trap? How could you not go if it's an international agreement. The first place, in your headquarters, natural second place must be the other side's headquarters, it is so absolutely crystal clear, I don't know that a reasonable persons, how could they spend so much paper, word and argument on why did they go. There was no other way than go on naturally. And when they were there, and almost until midnight I got back reports from General ... who was the chief of general staff who informed me about the proceedings, and everything ... was favourable. Then around midnight when the next regular hourly report from them did not come, then we had the, there is a little island there in the Danube, which is an engineering garrison, where we kept a, a pontoon, a raft, ready with a tank on it, with a, an officer who spoke Russian, which were prepared, if the contact would be stopped, this tank would go and contact them. And then I started ... go and found General ... among the delegates. And it went, landed on the island, and reported back. We are on the island, we see the Soviet headquarters completely lit up, we reach the door, now I get up to ask permission to contact General ... and we heard even some little noise that he opened the hatch and get out of it, no more report. In other words, they were instantly captured, disarmed, and parallel with that, was another tremendous ominous thing. The reports start to pour in, first from the region between the Danube and the Tisza river, and then from the ... ... area, all the same, Soviet troops without any warning attacked garrisons, barracks, disarmed the soldiers. Interestingly enough, they sent the soldiers home without the arms. In other words they disintegrated the soul of the Hungarian army. Everything, every report I received, I instantly called up Imre Nagy. Imre Nagy was completely informed. Now, when after midnight, probably it was around two o'clock, a.m. on November the fourth, the little very weak observation circle ... Budapest was attacked, then I called up Imre Nagy and reported him that this which was not really a defensive line, it was just a chain of observation posts, is attacked and I then tell that, Mr Prime Minister, all the signs we observe, the massive troop employment, the unrestricted shooting, now the attack against the final perimeter of Budapest all of this suggest to me that we are in war with the Soviet Union, I recommend that you as Prime Minister state for the nation, for the world, that Hungary is in war the Soviet Union, due to the Soviet aggression. If you authorise me to do it, if you prefer that I should do it, I do it on your authorization.

Now, that was the first time that Imre Nagy lost his patience with me, and he dressed me down practically, that you have to know as a general staff officer that that's a political issue, it's not a military issue, it is political, politicians can do it only. I said, that is what I understand, ... suggested, I only would have made, suggested statement under your order, at your authorization, not on my own. He says, no, no, no, there will be no such, we, we will not wage against the Soviet Union, and then came the next puzzling thing. He said, anyway, Ambassador Yuri Andropov is here in my study, and he stated that if there is any shooting, the question was silly, because the windows were already rattling under the noise of the Soviet b, if there is any shooting, Andropov said to me, I'm quoting Imre , then it must be only a reply to Hungarian provocation. No war with the Soviet Union. We hung up, the ... .... continued another one and a half hour, when Soviet tanks passed by our headquarters. The case is that we were a headquarter, we were not prepared for war, as I told you. Had we prepared for war then we would have made a strong point of the headquarters. We did not have heavy weapons, we did not have Molotov cocktails, we did not have anything there, because we were working on consolidation, not on future combat. So the tanks just walked under us, again, like at the beginning, without infantry support. In other words, had we been a strong point with Molotov cocktails, also with, tanks could have been burnt out in a matter of minutes. And ... tanks then turned, toward the general direction of the Hungarian parliament. So I called up Imre Nagy and told him, Mr Prime Minister, a Soviet tank column is bypassing me, passing us by, I am counting, one, two, twenty five, twenty six, and they are turning towards the parliament. Then there was a little silence in the telephone and Imre told me, thank you, I don't ask any more report. Now that was a very strange last word from Imre Nagy. He told me, ... ... I must be on his elbow to give military advice, and says, no more military advice, what is going on? Now we had a secondary headquarters in the Buda mountains. So I alerted the whole staff and the battalion which was protecting us, sat on trucks, I sat in a, a, a, jeep, and led the line towards the ... ... ... when we reached this area in front of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. There was tremendous silence there. Should we go on the bridge, should not we go on the bridge? Probably Soviet is already on the other side, with machine guns. I stopped the column, and a car came from the Parliament direction with tremendous speed and noises, is the brake, went on the bridge, went through without a shoot, I thought, all right, that was our, our scout, and then we crossed it, went up to the Buda hill, where there was a university students' regiment, all were now directed to the Buda mountain area, where we were ready to fulfil government order. If it is fighting, then fight, if it is laying down arm, laying down arms, in other words, I did not give up on my own. I was prepared to do what the Government would decide. So that we made a circle defence in the liberty hill, and prepared for anything. And I sent several groups, led by an officer to the Parliament to tell Imre Nagy, we are here. You didn't ask our further report, but we ask for information or order. We did not know that after this, we were already moving to the mountains, listening to the radio, then we heard Imre Nagy saying what I proposed three four hours before. He declared that we were in war. I remember the words. He said, here is Imre Nagy, the President of the Ministry Council of the Republic of Hungary, I inform the Hungarian people and the world, that early, in the early morning hours today, the Soviet troops attacked our capital city with the obvious intention to remove the legal government. The government is on this place. Our troops are fighting