Andrej Sziszak

* 1957

  • "Then I would move to the year eighty-five, and how did it actually happen that you emigrated? Have you even thought about it before? Not. No, I didn't think at all, because I knew that I would have a second child, that she was pregnant and, but... there used to be a friend of mine who was angry that I didn't marry her, so... One from Trebišov, who played football ... because I played football everywhere, he asked me if he could go to Yugoslavia with his wife. And my friend, she was in charge of those... those, those... tours. So I asked her if I could go. She said that he can go alone, but not with a woman. Because they didn't allow them to go to Yugoslavia at that time... very little at that time. But she said that if I want to go, she will arrange it for me. And I say that even if you arrange, they won't let me go anyway... and she says that if you want to go, I can arrange. So she arranged for me, because she had acquaintances in Trebišov, at that time it was still the Trebišov district, so I was told that I could go to Yugoslavia, but at that time I had no plans to go either. I just wanted to see how people live in Yugoslavia. And a friend tells me that he has already been to France... like work trips to the west, because he was building a gas pipeline, and that... that... we will spend five years, make money and come back. That we will have a very good life, because in five years we will earn very well. So I said if you want I'll go and see... Have you ever been to Yugoslavia? Yes, yes... in Yugoslavia. So we bought a ticket... Baška, not Baška. We were in Baška Voda, but we bought a ticket for the border, that there was a station where he knew he would cross... so he said that he could walk there, that we could go through the forest. So we went there, but I saw soldiers... with machine guns, dogs... so I said I'm not taking any chances. That I'm fine, and I'm not going to risk my life to get shot. And so we went down by train and got off saying that we are going back... it was like that we are going back, that we are not going west and the soldiers came to us... a policeman and one soldier... that what are we doing here. That we are watching when the train is leaving and that was true... when the train is going back, that we are here and we are going back. But they saw the passport saying Czechoslovakia and said: "Oh, you want to run away?" And no, no... we don't want to run away. And why are we watching the trains... And that, okay, they probably believed that we didn't want to run away, but they said that we had to buy a ticket first and then they would give us our passport back. So we bought a ticket, pointed and they said they would wait for us to get on the train. And that was a policeman, one a soldier, and that soldier was in Yugoslavia, but he knew Hungarian. And when he saw the name, Sziszák, he said, do I know Hungarian... and I said yes. And I immediately told him, quietly, in Hungarian, that I have a gold ring here, that he should give me back my passport and we can go. And he said that he can't help because he is a soldier, that the police are here, that we can't. But he said that the nearest station, exactly as it is here, that we get off and jump over, was a meter away. But for that they asked us why we were standing here, because as it is here, two meters were... Italy. That here is Italy, here is that... and my friend and I looked at each other and said, God, if we had known that Italy was here, we would have jumped. There was such a gate... a meter high. And we skip and we are there! So he said that we can do the same, but that we shouldn't wait any longer... and that they can't shoot, because they can't shoot in the city. That yes in the forest, but not in the city. And as we entered the train and as the train started, that we had not yet closed the door, we jumped out and jumped over there! And they laughed. "

  • "And actually with those cinemas, or maybe with music... you didn't have such experience that it... that not all music from the West was completely allowed, and they got used to it so secretly that tapes or even LPs. That you also had experience with it, that somehow secretly... Unfortunately, it was very much forbidden in Slovakia, that's all I can say. But we went to Hungary... it was there, we could buy everything. For example Leaders Hotel California, I remember running up and down so they wouldn't buy the LP and I remember I was ten years old and I already had a transistor. And I went... like, we were already listening to Free Europe and that kind of music and everything. I knew almost everything about Western music, how it develops and everything possible. Slovakia still didn't have such a big musical group... Czechs, Czechs, it was much better there than before, Karel Gott, Matuška and those Elán... no Elán, Elán came only after that. But the Olympic... I really liked Czech music. And Slovak was little, little... only then did it start to develop. And did you go to Hungary to see any movies? Because there was much more there too. Yes. I went to Budapest once when it was… what was it? When did Star Wars come out? And as I went… I also know that it was sci-fi, fantastic, and I watched for about three minutes and fell asleep. I said I can't watch that kind of crap. It's not... it's not true and I left. So, the only time I went to the cinema, to Hungary, was this. Because they haven't shown that in Slovakia yet, but I didn't like the sci-fi at all. And did it change in the future, is it still not your favorite genre… No, none. I like such documentaries or real life stories. Or very, very close stories that are from life. So these are still movies... I have about ten thousand DVDs. Back then, I was still buying DVDs because it was new, but now I don't have to, it's a different time. Yes, even the current Netflix used to be a rental company, from that, to DVDs, blueair and the like. Just one more thing, I would return to Hungary, that although it was also a country within the Eastern bloc, there were controls at those border points. How do you remember them, that they used to cause problems, how much goods did you import, or something like that? Never. I had all my friends at the border, they asked me to carry radiators and things like that. Sometimes I didn't even need a passport, I'll tell you the truth. They kept calling me to Tokaj for a wine bar and so on... that they were building houses and I was carrying things for them. Zuk... Zuk was the name of that car... such a car. And in that I had things for them and they were just showing me that it could go. That it was like that... and it was good money! That, that... I'll tell the truth."

  • "Well, I would have reached that period after the war. And shortly after the communist coup, Czechoslovakia was restored, including a certain form of democracy. A rationing system was introduced and a large part of not only Czechoslovakia, but also the whole of Europe was destroyed, so was life more difficult in those few years? Did they mention the ticket system, or because they had their own land, so they were able to make ends meet? Well... already in the fifties, we were building a new house and things like that... that it was built right away, that after the war it was built right away. As a village at all, it didn't feel like we were poor or anything. That... that I can say that like there in Čičarovce and its surroundings, Veľké Kapušany... that they went up, that it was not like that, that poverty. That there were things like that right away, that houses were being built, and that the state after forty-eighth... most of them started, so... Between forty-five and forty-eighth, I don't know exactly, but they said that after forty-eighth, everything went up . That, that... that better than life. And I would now return a little to that collectivization. You have already outlined it a bit, let's just try to frame it this way. That process started after the forty-eighth, and finally the grandfather entered or did not enter...? He immediately. He said that he likes it because before... that he had to do a lot. When they were alone, he had to do everything, and now, when they have something in common, they put together combines harvesters, tractors and things like that and everything... that it's much... that it's easier to do, that it's much easier and also that they'll make a good living out of it. That, that... that practically JRD works very well... It worked. And they also received some kind of compensation for entering? Or just a share... Also… well, share. Every year they received, back then it was... and that was a lot back then... ten thousand crowns. And don't you know that all the neighbors used to enter like this? Or there were those who simply refused. Well… no, almost everyone. In my opinion, everyone… no one said no. And right after the factories opened and things like that, half of the village went to Ostrava, Czech. That a lot went to... the Czech Republic… to work."

  • Celé nahrávky
  • 1

    New York City, 03.12.2023

    délka: 01:59:46
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Príbehy 20. storočia
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

„There‘s no need for me to go home, because there it will be the same as here, but here I know that I earn well... so as long as it takes for people to earn well there, it will take time... and as I heard that everyone has to go to Germany, to Netherlands, that there is a lot going on, that half the village is gone, so why am I going there when I have to go to Germany, to Netherlands...“

Andrej Sziszák during EYD recording in New York, 2023
Andrej Sziszák during EYD recording in New York, 2023
zdroj: Photo by Dominik Janovský

Andrej Sziszak was born on October 29, 1957, in eastern Slovakia in Čičarovce, into a family of Hungarian origin. He was not an only child, as he had an older brother, Albert, who was four years older. Mother Etela, unmarried Majrošová, was a native of Čičarovce. She came from a peasant but very rich family that owned a lot of land. This is also why Etela did not have to rush to work, but later, after the communist regime took over, she worked as a local innkeeper. Andrej inherited his Hungarian roots from his father, Ondrej Sziszak. His family belonged to the Russians and originally came from the vicinity of Snina. Grandfather Ondrej was one of the wealthy local businessmen who ran coal warehouses. Parents Etela and Ondrej got married in 1952. In the fifties, little Andrej also saw the light of day, who was born in very favorable conditions, as the house already had heating, a boiler and, as one of the few, even a toilet. In 1962, Andrej joined the local elementary folk school in Čičarovce, where classes were only in the Hungarian language. As there were few Slovak teachers in the village, the Slovak school was not established. He also experienced the period of a spark, a pioneer or, later, a binder. From an early age he was involved in sports, especially running. He was even nicknamed the gazelle, for his speed and excellent time results. After five years, Andrej transferred from the sixth grade to the Elementary school in Veľké Kapušany. Only in Kapušany did he learn Slovak well. In 1972, he began attending a secondary vocational school in Žilina, majoring in mechanics, measuring control devices. He wanted to work in the nearby power plants, so his choice was clear in advance. Andrej finished his last year of high school in Veľké Kapušany, where they opened the same department. He thus became a successful graduate in 1976. Subsequently, he obtained a position at Elektrárne Vojany. After a short break, in 1977, he had to join the mandatory military service in the czech Klatov. Andrej‘s first wife was a local Russian, Anka Tepláková, who originally worked in power plants, where they met. They married in 1980 and had sons Frederik and Patrik. In 1985, when Andrej‘s wife was pregnant for the second time with his son Patrik, Andrej obtained permission to travel to the former Yugoslavia, from where he managed to emigrate to Italy. He spent a year there and after obtaining a visa, his final destination was the United States, where he arrived in May 1986. Specifically, he flew to New York, from where he was transferred to Dallas, Texas. He worked as a courier, a repairman, a super assistant, until he finally landed for 26 years as a superintendent in an apartment building in New Jersey, where he himself got an apartment in which he practically lived for free. Over time, he had two daughters, Emiliana and Georgana, with his second wife, Indian Costilla, whom he married in 1991. Currently, Andrej has not lived with his second wife for seven years and they are currently in divorce proceedings. As he retired in February 2023, he left New York and decided to take refuge in a quieter place. However, he did not leave his job completely and as a trained electrician still earns extra income occasionally.