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Csilla Somogyi | Memory Project

Csilla Somogyi

Somogyi (Makay) Csilla
Csilla Somogyi (née Makay)
WWII Refugee


Csilla Somogyi (née Makay) was born on January 17, 1940 in Budapest Hungary. Her parents were from Transylvania - her mother had studied to be an art teacher and her father was a famous Hungarian cinematographer (Árpád Makay, 1911-2004). Csilla was only 8 when her parents fled Hungary after WWII. Because of the political nature of one of her father's films (it was critical of the new political force coming to power) he was in danger of being imprisoned. The family lived in Switzerland for four years before arriving to New York in 1952. They quickly became an integral part of the Hungarian community in New York City. Csilla remembers being at the offices of Radio Free Europe in New York during the 1956 Revolution, recalling the sorrow with which she soon realized that they would not be going back to Hungary as she had hoped (in the event of a successful revolution). She later studied at Elmhurst College in Illinois and then the City College of New York. She married a 1956er, Balázs Somogyi in 1964 and they had three daughters together, all of whom speak Hungarian.

When Balázs became an orthopedic surgeon, they moved to Cheshire Connecticut and have lived there ever since. They helped found the Hungarian Cultural Society of Connecticut and became active members in a number of Hungarian-American organizations (Hungaria dance group, the Itt-Ott conferences at Lake Hope, the Hungarian Society of Friends and their local HSCC). Their house was designed to accommodate Hungarian cultural events of up to 70 people, and they have invited numerous Hungarian performers, writers and artists to hold performances at their home over the years. Csilla is both an artist (sculpture, painting) and worked for over 3 decades in her husband's private practice.

Interview conducted by Andrea Lauer Rice and Réka Pigniczky in Cheshire, CT in 2017.

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