Éva Kisvarsányi

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In 1956 Éva Kisvarsányi was 20-year-old university student in Budapest. She was born and raised in Budapest in a family of intellectuals in pre-World War II Hungary. Her grandfather was the chief engineer of the Capitol City's Water Works, a job that carried a cabinet-level position (“Miniszteri Tanácsos”) in pre-1945 Hungary. Her father was a meteorologist and served in the fledgling Hungarian Air Force as a weather observer/officer. He served a tour of duty on the Russian front and by the end of the war he rose to the rank of captain.

After the Communist takeover in 1949, her father was interred to the provinces and the family lost everything. She was valedictorian of her High School graduating class in 1954, but was denied admission to the University on account of being a “class alien.” With nothing to lose and being 18, she appealed the decision. After a lengthy process, she was finally admitted as a freshman in Geology to the Eötvös Loránd University in December 1954.

She recalls the Hungarian revolution of 1956, when she was a university student: If it had not been for November 4 and the Soviet invasion, I would never have left my country. I marched with the students in the front row under the banner of „Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem” and decades later recognized myself on a French documentary about the revolution, which aired on NBC television. My husband gave a rousing revolutionary speech to the plenary session of the University. After the revolution was crushed we were afraid of the retribution and having given up hope of getting help from the West, we left Hungary on December 1.

She now lives in Sarasota, Florida and is the Executive Director of the Hungarian American Cultural Association, Inc., the Kossuth Club of Sarasota.

Interview conducted by Andrea Lauer Rice and Réka Pigniczky in Sarasota, Florida in May of 2015.

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