Local ceremony recalls brutal revolution
Those who survived the brutal revolution 50 years ago pause to remember.
By DON SHILLING
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Memories came flooding back as Charles Aczel brought his candle up to the monument of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.
He was one of 80 people who joined in song and prayer Sunday to remember the tens of thousands who died 50 years ago.
"It hits you a little bit emotionally," Aczel, 74, of Boardman, said after the ceremony at the Shrine of Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted on Belle Vista Avenue.
He remembered the start of the revolution as Hungarians by the tens of thousands rebelled against Soviet control. He and other political prisoners were freed from coal mines where they had been forced to toil for the Soviet Union.
He remembered when the revolution was crushed by Soviet troops and tanks 12 days later. Prisoners were ordered to return to prison camps and coal mines, but he, his sister and parents fled to Austria.
He remembered his decision to leave Austria. Once here, he built a life as a businessman, running Triangle Market at Market Street and Western Reserve Road in Boardman from 1972 to 1993.
The Hungarian community gathers each year at a monument dedicated to the brief but passionate revolution. Participants said this year's gathering was special because of the 50th anniversary.
The gathering included those who escaped the brutal aftermath of the revolution, their children and grandchildren.
As the Soviets regained control of the country in Nov. 4, 1956, they killed an estimated 50,000 Hungarians and sent about 150,000 people to Siberian concentration camps.
At the ceremony Sunday, people lighted candles in memory of those who died.
Elaine Polomsky Soos, a Catholic Exponent writer who spoke during the ceremony, said the ceremonies being held across the country this past week finally are bringing the revolution to the public's attention.
"I'm not sure why so many Americans don't know about the 1956 revolution in Hungary," she said.
She asked the survivors not to blame themselves because the story wasn't well-known. She said she has talked to some who said they have tried to tell their story, but people were not interested. For other survivors, the pain of what they experienced was so great that they didn't want to share it.
Aczel was one of those who was fortunate to escape the aftermath of the revolution, but he suffered greatly before it.
He was beaten and tortured for seven weeks after he was arrested. The 20-year-old was sentenced to six years of hard labor for being part of the underground movement trying to overthrow the Soviets. He relayed news between underground members.
His father also was arrested for being part of the movement. The family lost their property and business, which was delivering farm goods to railroads for transport.
When he left the refugee camp in Austria, he had no idea where he would end up. By chance, he was sent to the U.S., and on the ship he met someone who knew a priest who had already left his village for this country.
Aczel looked up the priest, the Rev. Peter Hegyi, who lived in Youngstown and directed Aczel to settle here.
Aczel worked hard -- first in the steel mill, then in construction and finally with his own businesses -- to build a good life with his wife, Catherine, and two sons. He became an American citizen in the early 1970s because of his love for this country.
Others at the ceremony seemed just as appreciative of this country as he is.
In addition to singing Hungarian songs to close their service, they joined together in "God Bless America."