Fallen to Tyranny: From Mauthausen to Gulag

Fallen to Tyranny: From Mauthausen to Gulag

by Thomas Z. Lajos MD


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781477212707
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 09/24/2012
Pages: 116
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.28(d)

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From Mauthausen to Gulag


Copyright © 2012 Thomas Z. Lajos
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4772-1270-7

Chapter One


Gathering Clouds: Europe in 1939

In early 1939, a rather insignificant booklet, which came to be called the Gray Book because of its color, was published in Pecs, Hungary. It had a soft cover and was less than a hundred pages long. By the end of the year, over 36,000 issues had been published in seven editions. It had been translated into ten languages and reprinted in English five times.

Its author was my uncle, Dr. Ivan Lajos. He was thirty-three years old.

Ivan's book garnered worldwide attention, inspiring fury and condemnation on the German side as well as hope and reevaluation among the Entente powers. It was deposited in the Library of Congress and was readily available to the public. It still is obtainable in antique bookstores!

The title of the first chapter, "Everybody Is Responsible," reflected the necessity of sane action in those urgent times. The text continued with sobering statements predicting the future. Ivan's book was based on collected German industrial and military reports reflecting military readiness and relaying the fear that Germany would lose the war. In his Gray Book, Ivan concluded:

"Hungary has to avoid siding with the loser again, for the second time in thirty years!" "It will be a long war!"

"There is not going to be a Blitzkrieg. The German economy and military will not be able to be a winner at the end!"

Would the United States enter the war? That was an enigma, but undoubtedly America would strongly "support the Entente nations" with material goods, equipment, and arms.

"Hitler will attack the USSR," which has a strong military readiness!

The war is going to "end within a year of D-day, the invasion!"

Although Neville Chamberlain declared: "I believe, it is peace for our time" on his return from Munich in September 1938, the forces of the Third Reich attacked Czechoslovakia and Poland a few months later. The aggression clearly justified a declaration of war by France and Britain.

Due to the untenable Versailles treaty, ending WWI, German nationalism had flared, supported by poor living conditions. Preparation for war started with major industrial developments. Adolf Hitler (Adolf Schickelgruber), the monster from Branau, Austria, as Ivan used to call him, managed to capitalize on the German air of nationalism and push for more "Lebensraum" through the early capture of the Rhineland, the Sudetenland, the Austrian Anschluss, and Czechoslovakia. He inspired an enthusiasm for resurgence and unification of German-speaking nationals. He attacked Danzig in Poland, supposedly to absorb the German speaking population but in reality to occupy a strategically important area.

Start of a Blitzkrieg

In 1939, Neville Chamberlain's government lacked clear decision-making, and the British public was still "ashamed" by Prince Edward's sympathetic attitude toward Hitler and the involvement of the German branch of the royal family in Nazi politics. The public excuse for Edward's abdication was that he was marrying a divorced woman, Mrs. Wallace Simpson. This excuse was used to cover up his political beliefs and Nazi orientation. He was given an insignificant post as governor of the Bahamas. Historically and even today, multiple divorces within the royal family have been smoothly accepted without consequences.

Hitler had three hatreds that determined his political objectives and goals:

1. The dehumanizing Versailles Treaty, marking the end of WW I.—he sought revenge.

2. The Jewish people within the Reich—he sought a "final solution."

3. The Communists—he sought to deal with communism, ultimately within the USSR.

Hitler attacked France through Belgium and Holland, circumventing the Maginot line, cornered the British forces at Dunkirk, trapped the Canadian army at Dieppe, and threatened an invasion of the British Isles. The French capitulation was executed in the same railway car, in which Germany's defeat had been signed at the end of WWI. With the amazing success of a Blitzkrieg, the question that obviously and most pressingly had to be asked for the universal welfare of humanity and the world was: How could Germany lose a war in the long run?

The thirty-three-year-old Dr. Ivan Lajos had answers to these crucial questions and others in his Gray Book, which was published in early 1939, just before the war erupted!

Who was this "law student"—an unpaid employee of the University—from the small Hungarian city of Pecs?

Ivan Lajos's Education

My paternal grandfather, Ferenc, and grandmother, Lenke Bekehazy Beke, had three children: Laszlo, Ivan, and Jolan. Ivan, the middle child, was born on February 3, 1906, making him fourteen months younger than my father, Laszlo. The children were brought up in a middle-class, intelligent, intellectual, and "international" atmosphere. My grandfather was a history teacher, and he really knew history! My grandmother was also a well-oriented and well-educated individual. She compulsively tried to provide the best possible education and future for her children. She was obsessed by these ideas. Even later in her life, when she was under tremendous stress and pressure, all her endeavors were concentrated toward providing the best possible living conditions for her children. The boys attended the so-called "real" school in the town of Pecs, where my grandfather became the principal. The school mainly endeavored to teach more scientific and "realistic" subjects, unlike the schools of the Cistercians and Jesuits, which concentrated on more humanistic subjects such as literature, art, and music. All three of the children were outstanding students. Ivan was nicknamed "Ocsike" by his parents, "Soma" by my father, and "Ocsi Bacsi" by us; Jolan was called "Baba" by the family.

Ivan started to "bloom" when he entered law school; the law was his forte and niche from the beginning. Ivan's teachers all agreed that he was brilliant. Professor Kalman Molnar, the outstanding professor of public constitutional law in the law school of Pecs, also was intensely interested in political and international law. He developed a close intellectual relationship "with his outstanding and best" student Ivan. On one occasion, when the two of them were chatting about a matter of international law, Prof. Molnar suggested that Ivan go to the library to look up the law's exact wording. Ivan modestly said, "We do not have to look it up in the library" and quoted the law by heart, word by word, exactly as it was written. He had an unbelievable memory and photographic mind. He was able to read a passage once and remember everything verbatim. He was like a Mozart, a prodigy in his field. During his law studies, he spent a semester studying in Vienna, Austria.

Ivan passed all his exams with the best possible grades, obtaining a first in the university law school and achieving the degree of "Subauspicis Gubernatoris," which required government approval and was granted by the head of state. When time came to confer the degree, Ivan refused to swear an oath to the "illegal" governor, Vitez Nagybanyai Miklos Horthy, ruling regent of Hungary. The text of the oath had to be changed. He achieved this distinction after delay on February 15, 1929. The local papers Dunantul and Pecsi Naplo hailed his achievements. As part of the degree-granting ceremony, he received a ring and was asked to choose whether it be made out of gold or iron. He chose the iron ring. As a child I always admired his unusual ring. Prof. Losonczi received a "Subauspicis Gubernatoris" in 1932. Because he accepted the gubernatorial oath, as Ivan had not, the university designated Professor Losonczi as the first person from the Pecs law school to receive this distinction.

Ivan was a brilliant child, a studious adolescent, and an expert in foreign political affairs by the age of twenty-five. He was tall (about six foot) but frail and thin. His face expressed self-confidence; it was tense but always carried a kind expression. He always was polite and self-assured. He believed that he could convince anyone of the truth by virtue of his tremendous knowledge. He regarded everyone as an intelligent person in his or her own way. Of course, this was not always true. Finances meant nothing to Ivan, and he received very minimal reimbursements for his work. For a long time, Ivan was without any salary! His most important considerations focused on the family: his parents, his brother and sister, and his nephews and nieces. As children in the 1940s, we were never forgotten or overlooked by our uncle Ivan, "Ocsi Bacsi."

While studying the political situation of the monarchy, Ivan was drawn toward the royalist cause: the restoration of the monarchy and the necessity of economic collaboration and political unity with the Carpathian nations. This idea may have been conceived in his mind while he studied in Vienna. He was dedicated to his ideas with flaming patriotism toward his country!

My recollection of events goes back as far as 1939. The war was pending. My aunt and godmother, Baba Jolan, Ivan's sister returned to Hungary preparing to move to Britain with her son, Frankie. The future of Canadian assistance came up during discussions: Jolan was convinced that Canada would support Britain unconditionally if war broke out. Ivan agreed, but he insisted that the United States would become involved sooner or later and that, without a doubt, Hitler would attack the USSR.

On several occasions, people attempted to physically attack my uncle Ivan. Fortunately, he did not get hurt. The attacks were precipitated by and directed against his beliefs. Ivan fought for the elimination of the "Numerous Clausus." He insisted that Germany would lose the war. He argued that consequently Hungary should keep out of the realm of the Axis Powers and try to avoid a disastrous end, the second one in thirty years.

Uncle "Ocsi Bacsi" had a cane that could function as a weapon. Its curved part could be detached from the lower part, the shell. The hand grip contained a one-centimeter woven iron wire with a lead tip on the end. I was very happy when he let me play with his serious weapon. Uncle Ivan was always busy writing and reading while at home, which was Rakoczi ut 44.sz. at that time. Our family always convened there for the holidays. Eventually, my grandparents moved to an apartment building across from the main University campus. Ivan maintained his own apartment at Bathory utca 6 sz., Pecs.

The publication of the Gray Book in early 1939 changed Ivan's life and immersed the family into constantly recurring worries and turmoil.

Mr. Gabor Muranyi's book describes Ivan's political activities, the circumstances surrounding the publication of the Gray Book, and Ivan's life and death. The title of Muranyi's book is Egy Epizodista foszerepe, Lajos Ivan tortenesz elete es halala, which translates into English as The Key Role of an Episodist: The Life and Death of Ivan Lajos the Historian (Noran Kiado KFT, 2006, Budapest, Hungary). Muranyi's book is an outstanding, detailed description of my uncle's life. I only can add personal notes to it. My intention in this book is to describe my uncle Ivan from a personal viewpoint. He was a thoughtful, considerate, kind human being, a renaissance individual with a brilliant mind, who was knowledgeable and cultured—a true rarity in our times.

Attacks on Ivan Lajos: His Arrest and Imprisonment in the Hadik

"Everybody Is Responsible," the first chapter of my uncle's book, reflected deep patriotism and warned that we needed to avoid the disastrous step of joining in Germany's war efforts and ending up again on the loser's side. Ivan made reference to original German sources: political, economic, and military books, literature, and essays. Ivan collected these sources and reviewed them in a scholarly fashion, without distortions or lies.

With the increasing Nazi orientation in Hungary, Ivan suffered more frequent, repeated, physical attacks on his life. My father bought another cane for him to take on his walks. It had a dagger inside the lower shell. It certainly fascinated my imagination. One day upon returning to his home, Ivan found his flat being ransacked by police officers, who were confiscating all his notes and documents without search warrants. He was ordered to appear the next day in the office of Count Istvan Csaky, the minister of foreign affairs in Budapest. Csaky exerted undue pressures on him to withdraw his book. Ivan said, "There is no point in threatening me. You only will find more resistance!" Some compromise was reached in which he agreed not to bring legal action against the authorities for their illegal search and removal of his notes, books, and ongoing works.

Following this incident, Ivan felt he had to move to Budapest to handle all the accusations. He moved, followed shortly thereafter by my grandparents, who came to take care of him and give him moral support. They lived at Radai utca 30.sz, fel emelet 1.

The war broke out in September 1939. Hitler attacked Poland! France and England responded with a declaration of war on Germany. Shortly thereafter, Hitler and Stalin negotiated an agreement on the division of Poland and the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania). In September 1939, Von Ribbentrop signed the "eternal" Peace Treaty (Non-Aggression Treaty) between Germany and the USSR in Moscow with Molotov. Hitler never met personally with Stalin! This was another point upon which the anti-"Szurke Konyv" or anti-Gray Book people claimed, "Ivan Lajos was wrong." My grandfather, Jeno Mantuano, asked Ivan during an evening get-together of the family in Maria utca 17, Pecs, "Is this peace treaty going to be a long-lasting affair?"

Ivan answered without hesitation, "No, Hitler is going to attack Russia in a year." This is exactly what happened. On June 22, 1941, the German army attacked Russia along a thousand-kilometer front.

In April 1942, during the Easter holidays in Budapest, my grandfather took my brother and me to the zoo. On our return home, my grandmother informed us, that Ivan was arrested at home and taken to the Hadik, the military prison. For ten to fourteen days, he was interrogated. Ivan never talked about the interrogators and their methods or the hardship he endured there. His arrest was precipitated by his memorandum objecting to the massacre at Eszek by the Nazis. (Incidently, Mr. Kurt Waldheim, known today as a former Secretary of the United Nations and Austrian President, participated there in the rank of Wehrmacht). Ivan sent his memorandum to Pope Pius XII through the Primate of Hungary, Cardinal Justinian Seredy, and Angelo Rotta, the papal Nuncio, asking them to forward it to Pius XII.

Ivan was charged openly in the newspapers with using Jewish money to help finance the publication of his Gray Book. Some of these charges referred to his Jewish brother-in-law, the shoe factory owner, who lived in London. How could that be? The allegations were dead false! Uncle Feri (Newman) was not in the position to provide money to anyone. At the beginning of the war, Feri had been detained in an English internment camp, like many other foreign refugees. After his release, Feri settled with Jolan in Leicester, where he continued working in his shoe-making factory. According to the right-wing newspapers, Ivan also was blamed for stating in his book that the German tanks and military equipment were made of "cardboard." These newspapers also alleged that "his prophecies" were based more on fiction than facts.

In 1939, in Berlin, Arato Csikos-Nagy promptly published a counter attack, entitled Valasz a Szurke konyvre (Response to the Gray Book), which was obviously sponsored by Nazi organizations. Arato Csikos-Nagy became a prominent person in one of the government branches during the communist era after 1946.

At this point, Ivan was a University of Pecs employee without a salary. There was no way he could get a "real" job. The press streamed accusations against him. Ivan was unshaken. Nobody could debate him openly; his encyclopedic knowledge of facts, references, and quotations shattered all objections with hard data, often eliciting emotional responses from listeners. In Budapest, he regularly attended meetings of the Saint Stephan Society, where by means of frequent presentations, he tried to convince the young, intelligent audience to resist the German-oriented government's pressure. Later, when he was tried by the KGB in Moscow and sentenced to fifteen years hard labor in the Gulag, these lectures were used as evidence against him.

During the late seventies and early eighties in the USA, I was approached by a Hungarian scientist working in Bethesda, Maryland. He expressed the greatest admiration for Ivan and his lectures, which he used to attend before and during the war. Drs. Laszlo and Eva Csatary, of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, helped to organize and put pressure on the postwar and post-Soviet authorities. They suggested Ivan Lajos should be remembered by means of a bust in the garden of the Academic House (previously Vasvary Villa) in Pecs. On March 19, 2002, such a bust was dedicated to Ivan Lajos. I will discuss the unveiling of the bust later.


Excerpted from FALLEN TO TYRANNY by THOMAS Z. LAJOS Copyright © 2012 by Thomas Z. Lajos. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations....................ix
Start of a Blitzkrieg....................4
Ivan Lajos's Education....................5
Attacks on Ivan Lajos: His Arrest and Imprisonment in the Hadik....................10
Mauthausen: March 22, 1944-May 5, 1945....................23
The Radio Interview: June 27, 1945....................24
The Concentration Camp: March 1993....................29
Raoul Wallenberg: His Arrival in Budapest in July 1944 and His Disappearance in 1945....................33
Post-War "Salami Politics"....................35
Mr. Frank Gann Redward's and Dr. Ivan Lajos's Meetings....................43
Under Arrest in the Soviet Control Committee Building in Budapest, June 17, 1946-September 26, 1946....................48
NKVD Inner Prison and the Karlag....................49
Hungarian and English Versions of the Chronological Events of Dr. Ivan Lajos's Political Life....................52
Map of Stalin's Gulag....................61
Thoughts on the Chronological Events....................62
The Russian and Hungarian Rehabilitation Documents (1998) produced only upon the request of my brother, Dr Laszlo Lajos....................64
Ivan's Fate: Hearsay and the Truth....................68
Karlag: Center of Prison Camps in Karaganda, Kazakhstan....................73
Unveiling of Dr Ivan Lajos's Bust in Pecs: March 19, 2002....................75
Statement of the American Legion....................78
Appreciative Statement of the Hungarian Government: 1999....................79
Dr. Ivan Lajos's Political Saga during and after the events of WW II....................85
Dr. Ivan Lajos Bibliography and Publications....................89

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Fallen to Tyranny: From Mauthausen to Gulag 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
C_A_Lajos More than 1 year ago
In this publication, Thomas Z. Lajos recounts the tragic and never-before-told personal story of his uncle, Dr. Ivan Lajos (1906-1949), whom he knew while growing up in war-ravaged and Soviet-controlled Hungary. Born in the historic city of Pécs, Dr. Ivan Lajos attended the University of Pécs Law School, from which he graduated with distinction. In 1939, he wrote and published in multiple languages a political tract known as The Grey Book, which became internationally renowned for suggesting that Germany would lose World War II and Hungary should remain neutral. In March 1944, with other prominent Hungarian political figures, Dr. Ivan Lajos was taken by the Germans to the German concentration camp Mauthausen in Austria. Following Germany’s defeat by the Allies, he returned to Hungary, where he remained active politically. As the Iron Curtain descended upon Eastern Europe and Hungary increasingly became controlled by the Soviets, Dr. Ivan Lajos disappeared. Unbeknownst to his family members, Dr. Ivan Lajos was taken, imprisoned, arrested, interrogated, and wrongfully convicted of various crimes by the Soviets. The Soviets deported him to the remote Karlag section of the Gulag in Kazakhstan, where he began to serve a fifteen-year, hard labor sentence but died two years later. In this well-written and professionally-presented book, including photographs, appendices, timelines, bibliographies, and an index, the author personally tells the heartbreaking, gripping, and compelling saga of Dr. Ivan Lajos, one of Hungary’s unknown heroes, who while attempting to free his country from its oppressors, fell victim to two systems of tyranny. Raising many unanswered questions, it will be of significant interest to students, historians, and others. This publication is very highly recommended for many readers and libraries—C. A. Lajos, The Librarian’s Review of Books