Bálint Ordódy

* 1931  

  • „Did your mother know that you would follow her to abroad when she left Hungary? A.: Yes, she had decided it with my brother-in-law and my sister. My brother-in-law worked for Kis Újság (the newspaper of the Smallholders’ Party) in Eötvös Street. He worked with Gyula Dessewffy, the director of the paper and Dezső Saly who was the senior editor, if I’m right. Both of them emigrated. We left the country in the night, in the night!, at the end of September with the help of railwaymen. It had been organized. Q.: Did you go by train from Budapest to a town in the countryside? V.: Not exactly. At first we went to Sopron, but people were controlled everywhere. We left Budapest for Sopron. Q.: Did you take a train or a car? V.: We went by train. At first we failed. The first occasion was a failure in Sopron, we had to return to Budapest. At the second time, at the end of September we managed to leave Hungary. People who would help us to cross the border waited for us in Sopron. Well, my sister was in a small hotel and me and my brother-in-law were standing on a nearby corner in Sopron. All at once four Hungarian soldiers were approaching, four soldiers with machine-guns, they were coming towards us … They stopped just ten centimeters off us. They must have noticed we weren’t from Sopron. We stared each other. Finally their commander ordered: „Right turn!” and they left. I whispered to my brother-in-law when the border officers were coming close „don’t move!” We didn’t move at all. Q.: You were right. If you had tried to escape.. they would have shot you. A.: Yes, they would, probably. We became statues, statues of marble. We were frightened very much. I was sure we would be arrested. But again a miracle happenned! We weren’t arrested. They left. They disappeared at the end of the street. My sister joined us only then, fortunately, my sister didn’t experience it. She joined us and we told her what had happened. Then we met the smugglers who were close friends otherwise. They didn’t smuggle other than people, they freed people who were harassed. Q.: Did they ask money for it? A.: Yes, they did.”

  • „Our Palatinus Joint-Stock Company was nationalized in 1947, if I remember well, and my father left the country the same year. Then we could hardly make ends meet. Then my mother was brought out of the country by the help of the French legation. It was the French legation in Budapest which brought her out of Hungary by the car of the legation. Q.: So could she leave Hungary officially with passport? A.: No, she couldn’t. She left Hungary in an illegal way, as the wife of the French minister, by car. She was smuggled out of the country in the car of the French legation. The French minister, Olivier de Sayve returned to Budapest the very same day and he left with his real wife and children by train the following day. There wasn’t any computers those days, their trick wasn’t uncovered. My mother as Madame de Sayve left Hungary and the real Madame de Sayve followed her with her husband and two daughters the day after it, but with her own passport. This was the way my mother got to Wien. Q.: She must have had very good relations to the French legation, otherwise they wouldn’t have run the risk of smuggling her. A.: Yes, certainly. Olivier de Serres was a very good friend of my parents. It was he who told them that they wouldn’t remain in Hungary, especially after my father didn’t return from Geneva. He promised to my father to smuggle out of Hungary also my mother. It wasn’t told how and when. Only some hours before the leaving she got the call that „we are coming for you.” And my mother fled the country in this way. Q.: Did you know that your mother would leave? Were you in the know? A.: Yes, I knew she would leave, but I didn’t know when exactly. My mother left Hungary with her Virgin Mary, an old wooden statue and her jewels. She did it! My father came to meet her in Wien. We left Hungary some time later, my elder sister, my brother-in-law and me.”

  • „We took a train and we went as far as Wien. Then we found an other train and finally we got to the Hungarian border. I had documents which said I was a refugee. Those days the border was controlled by students from Sopron. These students let my Dutch friend enter Hungary immediately. Q.: Did it happen at Hegyeshalom? A.: No, it was near to Sopron. Q.: At Sopron? A.: Yes, at the borderline near Sopron. There wasn’t any problem with the Dutch guy but I was stopped. Q.: Didn’t the Hungarian students let the Hungarian refugee enter the country? A.: The Hungarian students told me that „we are revolutionaries, we are socialists. You are a bloody capitalist counter-revolutionary. We don’t want you.” And I was sent back to Austria. The Austrians on the other side thought that I was a political policeman because they were escaping in those days. Q.: So you were in the crossfire, aren’t you? A.: The Austrians thought that I was a political policeman and they came to catch me with their dogs. I showed them my documents and they could see that I had come from Paris. I could spend the night in the border station. I returned to the border line the following day. There was an other group of student patrols there. It was on October 28. And there I met an other Hungarian who had come from Paris, too, it was Pista Lakits, István Lakits. He is about my age, he lives in Berlin nowadays because his wife still works and she works in Berlin. So we entered Hungary and the two of us were together. A new stamp „entered” was put on my document. We formed a small group, we were about 8 and we arrested a political policeman. Q.: Did you join a group of students? A.: Yes, I joined the students. We were divided in small groups and everybody was given an old gun and two handgrenades. And we arrested a political policeman but our activity didn’t last for long because the Russians arrived. They arrived on November 3.”

  • „We took a goods train in the night which was directed to Austria, then back to Sopron. Q.: Wasn’t it controlled in the station before departure? A.: Certainly, it was controlled, but we were hidden in the straw. The iron curtain hadn’t been built yet, there was still about one week up till then, until the beginning of October. The railwaymen had organized our escape, when the train had crossed a certain strip of land in Austria, it slowed down. We could jump off it then! Q: Didn’t you have any bags with you? A.: No, we didn’t! Q.: Nothing at all? V.: Nothing! We had nothing with us! It was the end of September and it wasn’t cold. The watch towers were under construction but the iron curtain wasn’t yet installed. Thus we could cross the fields, we walked one-two kilometers. There was a stranger with us, I think he was an agent, he wanted to come with us anyway, but we left him behind in a cemetary. I remember it clearly. Q.: Did you join a big group? A.: Not at all. There were we in three and that fourth one who came with us but we could separate ourselves from him. We remained in three, it was daybreak, you know we crossed the border at night, so it was dawn and a van stopped near to us and we could get on it. We were on the Austrian side of the border but in the Soviet sector. Q.: You’re right, I’ve forgotten that it happened before 1955. A.: It was in the Soviet sector, but there wasn’t any control on the roads. The van took us near to Wien, we got off between Wien and Wiener Neustadt. There somebody else took us and he brought us to the city center where we met my parents. So it happened. So we got to Wien. My parents had their accomodation in the American sector and we followed them there.”

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    Paris, 25.10.2013

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I recite one poem of Petőfi for myself every evening.

Bálint Ordódy in Visegrád
Bálint Ordódy in Visegrád
zdroj: private collection

Bálint Ordódy was born on February 13, 1931 in Budapest. His father Béla Ordódy who came from a family of landowners became the executive director of Palatinus Joint Stock Company. His mother‘s family, the Schiffer family, was the founder and main stockholder of Palatinus. Bálint Ordódy was a private pupil, then he studied at the Secondary School of the Piarist Order. His father emigrated to Switzerland in 1947. After the nationalization of the properties of the family company the same year the famiy had difficulties of subsistence. His mother Erzsébet Schiffer was smuggled out of Hungary by the French minister in Budapest in 1948. Bálint Ordódy fled the country near Sopron by a stock train in September 1948. He settled down with his family in Paris. His parents made a new living by renovating old flats and being agents for Primtemps stores. He finished his secondary school studies at the Hungarian Secondary School in Innsbruck in 1949. Then he moved to Great Britain temporarily with his parents. He worked for Panama and he tried to continue his studies at a British university. Finally he got a scholarship from the Free Europe Committee and he could study political sciences at the university in Strassbourg. He graduated at Hautes Études Commerciales in Paris. In the meantime he had begun to work for American Express, too. Having heard the news of the fightings in Hungary at the end of October, 1956, he returned to Hungary and he joined the national guard of Sopron. Having returned to Paris, he worked as a volunteer for the French Red Cross. Between 1958 and 1960 he was marketing assistant at the French Tin Syndicate. In 1960 he married Marthe de Levis de Mirepoix. They had two children, Stanislas and Mariella. He worked as product manager for various firms. He got the French citizenship not before 1968. It was easier for him to get jobs after it. He continued to work by promoting different products. In 1971 he was employed by Promexport, an affiliated company of BRED Banque Populaire. In 1978 he was transferred to BRED, Department of Big Affairs, where he worked for one and a half decade. Beside his job he was active in a number of social organizations. He was the founder of the French organization of English Speaking Union, then he founded an ESU unit also in Anjou. He retired in 1990 and he moved to St-Clément-des-Levées (Anjou) with his wife. He tried to build cultural and political relationship between Anjou and Hungary.