When renowned film director Péter Gárdos wrote the story, he intended it as a film script, but eventually he made it into a novel. “Fever at Dawn,” the love story of two Holocaust survivors―the author’s parents―has ever since sold in more than 20 territories.
It would be very hard to find anything more absurd and nonsensical than the Hungarian army of the Socialist era. Face and About-Face recounts the unique experience of the one-year compulsory army service that young men who had been admitted to college or university had to complete before starting their studies.
To me, the shouting Nazis staging their brutal raids on civilian shelters hunting for Jews in hiding, like me, appeared as dumb, cruel, homicidal monsters pretty low on my scale of threats, after the continuous aerial bombardment, the ubiquitous disease-carrying vermin and the contaminated drinking-water supply that got me in the end.
If there were a God, and if he had time to cast a glance into the married lives of couples in Budapest, his cheeks would flush red with shame, assuming he had cheeks, assuming he were not merely a waft of air like most spirits. Course he’d immediately deny all responsibility, since marriage was not part of his original design. Man had invented it, cause man had thought it would be a good idea.
It was 1956. In those days, nobody stole. The murderers who had left prison did not murder, the robbers did not rob. The moral level of the entire nation remained on a higher plane, everyone rose above themselves. In this aspect, 1956 was not just a republican moment in the life of Hungary, but an invigourating moral celebration as well.