Q: Tell me about the Kilian barracks - it was directly opposite the Korvin Passage.
A: During the revolution, we were against each other. Moliter was over there, the boss, from the 25th. From the first minute he arrived, he opened fire against us. We had between 50 and 60 kids die from those bullets which came from the Kilian barracks. The 2nd of November, Kovacs, who was the... (Hungarian words)...
(Prompt in b/g)
A: The Chief of Staff...
(Something inaudible in b/g)
A: He was the Chief of Staff. With Miklos Sucz, [he] went into the Kilian barracks and they had dinner over there with Moliter. (Clears throat) At that time, Moliter made a statement to these two guys, and he said - I try to quote - "I'm in favour of the socialist system. I wasn't firing, and I never gave order to fire, for I am not willing to fire, or give order in future to fire, against the Soviet troops, to which I have to thank my career and my life." In another word, he never fought the Russians. But we... as I said, we had 50 to 60 dead freedom fighters from those bullets which came from the Kilian barracks. Now the communists, and the reform communists, they tried to put him in a big pedestal, because they want to steal the revolution from the kids of Budapest, that the leader of the revolution was a communist officer, which is not true. Now I wrote my book - it came out in '82, in the United States - and I came out with what happened and what I went through during the revolution. I didn't have any documents. But now when the documents, little by little, are coming out, they proved that every word I wrote in the book is true. Now nobody's talking about Moliter; now they try to bring out another communist who led the revolution: Imre Nagy. Now they erected a monument for him. The only thing they forgot - Imre Nagy wasn't leading the revolution, he was following it. The revolution led him. I accept Imre Nagy as a martyr, and the reason... because I said in tplaces in my book that that itself doesn't make anybody a martyr. The principles, the idea for which someis willing to sacrifice his own life - that makes a martyr. And this happened with Imre Nagy when Munich went to him, to Matjarsfeld, and ask him to resign as Prime Minister and he has a place in the Kadar Government, and Imre said, "No, I'm not going to resign." Now he was a communist - he knew the consequences of this, and he accepted. So that's why I admit him as a martyr. But he wasn't leading the revolution, he was following it.
Q: What is it like to have to fight troops with tanks and heavy artillery in narrow streets?
A: (Sighs) I was very, very much afraid. I can talk only about myself. (Pause) Quite a few times I want to go home. I said, "What the heck I'm doing here? Maybe the next bullet is going to be mine." And I started to go; and when I saw the 14-15-year-old kids dead, I said, "I was in the service for two and a quarter years; I know how to handle a gun. And I'm going home and I'm going to leave these kids to die for our country?" The shame kept me there. I realised that... only when [it] was quiet I was very much afraid. When I was involved in the fighting, I had no time to think about fear. And when I realised that that was the reason that I was looking for the biggest fight. Not because I was a hero or because I... to don't be afraid - that's why I... And maybe that was one of the reason I was elected to be the commander-in-chief. But there was another, and that other reason was political. One of the leaders over there, he agreed already with Moliter and General Vardi, who was the commander of the tank... all the tank divisions in Hungary, that was the 28th... that the Korvin is going to lay down their weapons and we're going to follow the... whatever. And I said, "We don't believe in any promises. Until one Russian soldier's still in Hungarian soil, we're not going to lay down the weapons. We're going to fight until the last Russian soldier leaves the country. And then, whatever." Now in the Korvin everybody knew about this argument, and 90% of the kids, they were with me. And right now, exactly yesterday, it was a big celebration in the cemetery: the anniversary when the five communists were hanged, Imre Nagy, Moliter and the rest of them. For me, every single day when somebody from my old comrades were executed, is a holiday. Not the 16th of June, when the five communists were executed, but every single day. What I would like - and I hope I can live that long - [is] that that day when the last Russian soldier left (Emotion) Hungary, is going to be a national holiday - the Hungarian independence day. And I hope I can live that long.
Q: Did you think that you could ever win? Was there a feeling after the 28th, after the cease fire, that you actually had won, the revolution (Overlap) had won?
A: (Overlap) Yes, yes, yes. I'm sorry.
Q: I'll ask you again...
Q: On 28th October, there was the armistice, truce, whatever, and Nagy then declared his allegiance to the revolution. Did you believe that the revolution had won?
A: Yes. Definitely. And the revolution was victorious - no question about [it]. Politics, and what later we found out - we were sold out by the United States. To prove it - and the proof is in my book also, can be find over there - the 28th of October we won the revolution. The 29 of October, the day after we won the revolution, went a telegram from the State Department to Moscow, to the American Ambassador - I'm thinking his name... doesn't matter... I'm going to remember... Charles Bolen - with a message that "this message, give to the Soviet Government as soon as possible". And I try to quote the telegram: "The Government of the United States does not look with favour upon governments unfriendly with the Soviet Union on the borders of the Soviet Union." What was the purpose of that telegram the day after we win the revolution? To tell the Soviets that "We don't want Hungary. Go ahead and do whatever you want to." In the Politburo, Khrushchev said in many of his speeches that they didn't believe to this telegram; they thought it's a... it's a trick from the American Government. But just in case, Khrushchev said to the Secretary of Defence to prepare enough troops in Hungary to break down the revolution. "But don't do anything - just go in and be there, and wait for the next order." The 2nd of November, through the CIA, the United States Government knew that Khrushchev and Malenkov [are] going to be in Briony, in Yugoslavia, having a meeting with Tito. The second telegram, to save time, they sent to Tito because they knew Khrushchev is there. And I quote the second telegram: "The Government of the United States does not look with favour upon governments unfriendly to the Soviet Union on the borders of the Soviet Union." Now the question is... Michunovich, who was the Yugoslav Ambassador to the Soviet Union, he was present at that meeting, but nobody could take notes: it was no tape recorder, so everything was only in words... but he wrote his memoirs later on, and he says in his memoirs that Khrushchev's reaction was, when this was translated to him, that "In 24 hours we're going to write off Hungary from the map." We won the revolution... and the United States Government lost us, sold us out.
Q: Did you expect any assistance from the West at the time you were in the Korvin?
(Pause - Sigh)
A: Yes. We were expecting. But it didn't come any help - I'm not surprised. Especially now I'm not surprised.
Q: But at the time, you were...
A: (Overlap) But at that time we were expecting help. We didn't know [what] was the political situation. You see, a flea and an elephant - that was the difference between the forces: the Soviet Union, which was the biggest military force at that time, and a nine-million population Hungary. Kids, not even military-trained people, were fighting the tanks - kids. And that we win, that was a tremendous surprise for us too. But the victory we achieved only because the Soviet Union was afraid that the United States going to get involved, and that can risk the third world war. Since the Second World War, the Soviets, they were preparing for the third world war, but they wasn't quite ready. And that was the reason that the Hungarian revolution won. But when the United States told the Soviet Union that "We don't want Hungary - Hungary is yours, do whatever you want to," came the 4th of November, and...