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A true story of "courage that only fear can generate"

Submitted: October 08, 2011

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Submitted: October 08, 2011



Anna’s Story

Author: J.D.Beddard

Born: Szekesfehervar, Hungary. 1934


Hungary was occupied by the Germans during World War 2. Anna was approximately 10yrs old at the time.

During WW2 the Germans took blood from Hungarian people, this was sent to the German front line and given to wounded German soldiers.

Both Hungarian adults and children were forced to give blood and were tattooed with a number to prove that they had done so. Anna was no exception.


Following the end of World War 2 Hungary was occupied by the Russians having driven out the German army.

Some years later –


At the age of 21yrs Anna worked as quality controller in a factory

Hungary at this time was still under Russian occupation following WW2 along with Russian suspicions of spies within the Hungarian workforce working against the Russian occupation of their country.

One day whilst working the factory Anna was accused of deliberately sabotaging production, and conspiring against the Russian controlled Hungarian puppet government by rejecting production parts that failed the quality control procedures.

Anna was marched off to the office to be questioned by both Hungarian and Russian Supervisors, later to be accused of being a member of the Hungarian resistance and charged.

Later that same day Anna was taken from the factory by the “AVO” (AVO Secret Police) thrown into a truck and sent directly to prison, none her family were informed of her arrest or where she had been taken to.

Only later did her family discover what had happened to Anna through friends and contacts.

The prison that Anna had been taken to by the “AVO” (Secret Police) was some miles away from Anna’s home and family.

For 6 months her time in prison was spent working 6 days a week in a mine.


The Hungarian Revolution:

During the Hungarian Revolution 1956 the Hungarian people were able to take back control of their country for just 12 days until the Russians sent in more troops and tanks. Intense fighting and hardship drove thousands of Hungarians to leave their homeland via any route they could. Austria in the West had now become their chosen destination.

In early November 1956 the borders between Hungary and Austria were still open to Hungarians who had the right papers and enough money to bribe for their passage, by train, truck, or even on foot with the right contacts.

By mid November 1956 the Russians closed the borders with Austria.

Following her release from prison Anna become an active member of the of the “Hungarian Resistance” working against the Russian occupation of her Country, Hungary.

She was later to be arrested once again by the “AVO” Secret Police and the Russian KGB and sent to prison for a second time.

Anna recalls how prisoners were taken from their cells to the prison courtyard and shot for being spies; others were put onto trains and taken to some unknown destination in Russia.


Late November around the time of the Revolution:

One night Anna and 4 of her fellow prisoners, 1 other female and 3 men decided to escape from prison through a window. It was going to be a long drop down from the window to freedom, thankfully all of them made it without injury.

Late November in Hungary is extremely cold and this year was no exception, with no adequate warm winter clothing. Anna and her colleagues made their escape through the pine tree forest and woods.

With Russian and Hungarian troop check points on all roads they could only travel at night hiding in the hills and fields, for food they lived off raw cabbage and beetroot that they took from the occasional farmer’s field they would stumble into.

They were unable to light a fire to keep warm, or to cook with for fear of compromising there safety.

Anna and her group would encounter remote farm houses from time to time, but dare not ask the occupants for food or shelter.

There was a 10 year prison sentence for any person found assisting revolutionist. It was common for people to comply with this Russian ruling by informing the authorities.

Without proper clothing or food Anna and the group had to endure six cold days and nights on their journey to freedom to the Hungarian –Austrian border.

Moving only at night and avoiding Towns and Villages as these were laden with Russian and Hungarian troops and certain capture.

On the sixth night they arrived at the border cold, hungry and exhausted.

It was at this point when they realized that their ordeal was far from over.

Whilst observing the border crossing from the woods they discovered that they had arrived at the point where the River Raba separates Hungary from Austria.

In normal times the official border crossing point in this area would be via the bridge between the two countries, but these were not normal times and the border had now been closed, even for people with the right papers.

The group could clearly see Russian tanks and troops embedded on and around the bridge crossing.

With their escape across the bridge out of the question they considered swimming the river, this was not going to be an easy option but the only option left to them now.

The River Raba was more than a hundred yards wide and the water was icy cold, and fast flowing as it always was at this time of the year.

They would also have to negotiate the barbed wire and landmine fields which stood between them and the river bank, in addition to this there were lookout towers which Hungarian and Russian soldiers occupied with their machine guns and search lights.

Turning back was not an option for Anna, with the courage that only fear can generate Anna and the others made their way through the black cold night across the barbed wire and through the mine fields towards the Austrian lights of freedom.

In the distance further along the river banks, Anna and the others could see the bright search lights, and hear machine guns firing from the gun emplacements, loud bangs and flashes as landmines exploded to the rhythm other Hungarians attempting to cross the river into Austria.

Anna and her group had made it safely through the barbed wire and mine fields.

With the freezing Hungarian winter cold. Anna entered the fast flowing icy river waters and swam for her life. Russian and Hungarian machine gunners with their searchlights combed the water looking for targets to shoot.

Anna almost made it across the river to freedom without being shot until a machine gun spotter picked her out in the water with his spotlight. At which point a machine gunner opened up his machine gun on her.

One bullet penetrated Anna’s right buttock cheek as she swam; thankfully the bullets velocity was slowed down by the water, reducing the damage.

Finally, Anna made to the other side and the freedom of Austria only to be confronted by more soldiers and machine gun emplacements again, only this time the solders were not shooting at her, and they spoke a different language, they were Austrian. Cold, wounded, exhausted and covered in mud but safe.

Anna had made it…

Following assessment by the Austrian Authorities Anna was taken to a Hospital to have the bullet remove.

After her recovery from her gunshot wounds, Anna worked as a nurse tending to war wounded in Austria. Later, the Austrian authorities offered her a chance to start a new life in another country.

During the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 290,000 – 300,000 thousand Hungarians fled over to neighbouring borders to escape the bloodshed. In order to ease the situation commonwealth countries agreed to take in displaced Hungarians and other.

Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa all offered to take in displaced Hungarians and Other.

Anna was offered Canada or England, she chose England. In late 1956 Anna arrived in England alone, and unable to speak English.

Anna had overcome Language problems in the past.Learning both German and Russian during previous occupations of her country.

She currently speaks 3 different languages, German, Russian, English, along with her native Hungarian.

Initially, Anna went to live in Castle Donnington, near Derby, later moving to Manchester for a short while, finally settling down in the northwest of England where she met her Husband Gordon.

It would be many years before the Hungarian/Russian Authorities would allow members of the Hungarian resistance to return to Hungary to see their families and loved ones.

In 1963 an amnesty was given by the Hungarian Government.

Anna, with good reason did not trust the Hungarian authorities at their word, fearing that she would be re-arrested if she returned.

It was only after her mother assured her some 15 years later that the amnesty was genuine did she feel safe enough to return to Hungary to visit her family.

OCT 2011:

Today, Anna still lives in the Northwest of England with her husband Gordon, where she has spent the greater of her life. Now in her 70th + year she remains a very modest and gentle woman with a passion for life, enjoying days out driving her car.

To this day Anna has no idea if any of the others in the group made it to freedom on that night.

For many years now Anna has enriched and inspired our family with her wisdom, and general take on lifes values.Including playing a special part in my life, following my marriage to her daughter.

I decided to pen just a small part of Anna`s very interesting life so that our two daughters could one day reflect on their Grandmothers amazing achievements and struggles in her life.

Not a Mother-in-Law you want to mess with!


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