Budapest Exit
A Memoir of Fascism, Communism, and Freedom
Cold War
5.5 x 8.75, 176 pp.
15 line drawings., 31 b&w illus.
Pub Date: 09/17/2007
Eugenia & Hugh M. Stewart '26 Series
  cloth
Price:        $27.95

978-0-89096-823-9
  paper
Price:        $19.95

978-1-58544-640-7

Published by Texas A&M University Press

To Receive E-News
 
 



 

Budapest Exit

A Memoir of Fascism, Communism, and Freedom

By Csaba Teglas

When Csaba Teglas was confronted with the Nazi invasion of Hungary during World War II, the Soviet occupation following the Allied victory, and finally with the opportunity to escape the oppressive regime during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, he responded not with fear, indecision, or submission, but with courage, ingenuity, and hope. In Budapest Exit: A Memoir of Fascism, Communism, and Freedom, Teglas begins with the story of his childhood in Hungary. During the war, the dramatic changes that took place in his country intensified with the invasion of the Nazis. The Nazis' defeat after the terrifying siege of Budapest should have led to freedom, but for Hungary it meant occupation by the Soviets, who were often little better than the fascists. A twelve-year-old friend of Teglas was forced to watch the brutal gang rape of a Jewish family member by the same Soviet soldiers who liberated her from the Nazis. Despite the difficulties of life in Budapest, Teglas met the challenge when sustenance of the family fell on his young shoulders. One of the innovative ways he earned money was to employ his playments to extract ball bearings from wrecked tanks and other military vehicles that he then sold to factories. He also sold rubber rings cut from bicycle tubes to use as canning seals. Before the communists solidified their rule, Teglas obtained admission to the Technical University of Budapest, where he earned a degree despite constant interference in the University by the communists. The following years under the Stalinist dictatorship were the harshest, and Teglas and his family and friends lived in constant fear; some were even subjected to the communist jails and torture chambers. But rather than standing idly by, Teglas protested, sometimes quietly, sometimes more vocally, against the Soviet and communist presence in Hungary. During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Teglas became more involved in the opposition to the communists. When it became clear that the revolutionaries were not going to succeed, he knew he had to leave Hungary to avoid retaliation for his involvement. Teglas recounts his dramatic escape through the heavily guarded Iron Curtain and his subsequent emigration to North America, where life an an immigrant presented new challenges. Teglas compares the genocide and tragedies of Nazi order in World War II and of communist rule to recent international events and ethnic cleansing in Central and Eastern Europe, including the former Yugoslavia. He also highlights the failure of the West to stop the war in Bosnia expediently and the possible far-reaching consequences of a "peace" treaty that aims to satisfy the demands of the aggressors while ignoring the rights of others in the Balkans. Even more, though, this memoir is Csaba Teglas's personal story of his youth, told from the point of view of a man with sons of his own. He found in America the freedom for which he had been searching, but he has raised his American sons to remain proud of their Hungarian heritage.

Csaba Teglas, a native of Hungary, is a semi-retired city planning consultant. He has lived in White Plains, New York, with his Scottish-born wife, Rowena, since 1967.

What Readers Are Saying:

“Csaba Teglas’s fascinating and affecting autobiographical text is . . . a testimony to man’s irrepressible yearning for freedom. With tender perception and verve, Teglas penetrates with sharp glimpses into the world of Gyorgy Konrad and Milan Kundera, the cursed Central European fate. . . . Among the numerous memoirs and reminiscences penned by Hungarian-Americans, Teglas’s account stands out as the most sincere, credible, and least pretentious text.”--Clara Gyorgyey, President, Writers in Exile Center of International PEN

“Csaba Teglas’s fascinating and affecting autobiographical text is . . . a testimony to man’s irrepressible yearning for freedom. With tender perception and verve, Teglas penetrates with sharp glimpses into the world of Gyorgy Konrad and Milan Kundera, the cursed Central European fate. . . . Among the numerous memoirs and reminiscences penned by Hungarian-Americans, Teglas’s account stands out as the most sincere, credible, and least pretentious text.” --Clara Gyorgyey, President, Writers in Exile Center of International PEN

“. . . With a new war raging in Central Europe, [Budapest Exit] is more relevant than ever. Teglas relies on childhood memories to tell his story. He writes of terrifying encounters with the invading troops. . . .[maintaining] a sense of humor and humanism. . . Above all, ‘Budapest Exit’ is one man’s story, an accounting of the personal price of dictatorship and the undiminished value of freedom.” --The Journal News

“ . . . By indulging his sons with stories of his life, Teglas gave the world a cautionary tale as relevant today as it was while he was young, living in war-torn Hungary during World War II. . . . Back to Budapest Exit, one man’s personal saga whose echoes exist today, offers an education to those condemned to repeat the history from which they failed to learn.” --Dayton Daily News

“By indulging his sons with stories of his life, Teglas gave the world a cautionary tale as relevant today as it was while he was young, living in war-torn Hungary during World War II.” --The Daily Sentinel

“There are parallels between that time and the events that occurred this year in the Balkans and Kosovo.” --Poughkeepsie Journal

“. . . ‘Budapest Exit’ is an accounting of the personal price of dictatorship and the undiminshed value of freedom.” --Arts & Culture

“In Exit, Teglas has produced an unusually memorable work. . . . an elegant and beautiful little book. . . . The result is an enjoyable and informative work that can be read with profit by anyone . . . “ --Hungarian Studies Newsletter

“In his memoir, Budapest Exit, Teglas analyzes, with intelligence and occasional humor, the plight of his people who, like many other Central and Eastern Europeans, were caught between a rock and a hard place. . . . Teglas’ well-written memoirs help bring about an understanding of the daily lives of people under totalitarian rulers and how they manage not only to survive, but to invent ways of circumventing the rules created by petty bureaucrats. . . . Budapest Exit is more than a remembrance of things past —it’s a reminder of what can happen.” --BC-FEA–Books Review

“ . . . a compelling personal account of life in Hungary during those difficult years. The sections on the Russian occupation of Budapest and Teglas’s escape from Hungary are especially interesting, conveying both the details of everyday life during those times and a sense of people’s hopes and, eventually, despair.” --Eric L. Pumroy, director of Programs and Information Services, The Balch Inst

OF RELATED INTEREST

Critical Reflections on the Cold War
Use of Force after the Cold War
Jennifer Project
Habits of the Balkan Heart
Review Copy Request Form Desk Copy Request Form