Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 14, No. 12. September 20, 1951
Actions Speak Louder — Refugees from the Tragedy of Hungary
Actions Speak Louder
Refugees from the Tragedy of Hungary
In Salient there have appeared many appeals for material aid to students still suffering from the disaster of the last war. Most of us know that many millions are starved, without clothing and probably without hope. But judging by the stories of the two students from Budapest material hopes are only a beginning.
Two Hungarian students, one of whom is married and has a child, arrived in Wellington the other day having come by devious ways from Budapest. Their full story appeared in the Evening Post with details of their escape from the political police and the scheme which will result in their new life in this country.
The idea for bringing two students to New Zealand was first suggested at a Pax Romana Congress at the Hague when students were discussing practical ways of helping people still suffering from the war. It seemed sensible to assist two students and because the immigration scheme helping displaced persons in the first stages of their journey was duo to cease it had to be arranged quickly. Three adults and one child—not many people—but it is something done. A trust has to be raised to ensure that there is money for the four of them while the two men study.
These people were pleased and grateful to be here. Their first looks at New Zealand had pleased them and they thought that Wellington looked like Buda—not Pest which is flat.
Stephen Sziranyi could speak our language well and after a tiring morning with reporters was still full of energy. They have both done four semesters at the Technical University of Budapest and some work at the Technical University of Bavaria and while in New Zealand are to study Civil Engineering.
Thomas Paulay's wife is an Austrian whom he met after he had escaped from Hungary in 1948. Their comments on Hungary were most interesting after the tale of their escape.
They made a distinction between the Nazi and Communist occupation. The Nazis were there but only in the high places so that the ordinary people felt little and knew little, but Communist domination is everywhere. "The Germans wanted food, food and more food, but the Russians want everything, food, industry and your own clothing."
In Hugary when they left there were continual rumours of war, in cafes and in street cars people whispered about armies which were about to drive out the Russians and change the Government. "Hope, hope—in days, in weeks, in months and now in years. And when we got out we found that there was nothing to hope about."
After their escape it was not easy to get out of Hungary. Until 1948 perhaps 2000 people crossed the border every week, but even then it was necessary to have a black route for sending uncensored mail to friends outside. From that time onwards the authorities began to build the border fences with barbed wire, searchlights and guard stations. Every few yards or so there are mines and now the people who cross the border number about 10 to 15 a week. There is no peace they said after so many years of war. We knew there wouldn't be as the Russians got further into Hungary.
These are the first students sponsored by a student organisation as far as we know to arrive in New Zealand. Having spoken to these three people we can only hope that other student organisations decide to do likewise. Our kind of freedom and peace appear to be quite wonderful even if some people Judge them as imperfect. It makes us realise even more clearly how fortunate we are.