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  • Beth Lantinga

Denes Fulop Was Tried

Updated: May 3

In the last section of this post, you will see a seminary professor referred to as Jenobaci. There is something dear and respectful when -baci (pronounced bachi) is added to the given name of a beloved older man. Calling him Uncle Jeno would be way too flippant. I loved hearing Bethnéni when I was in Hungary.


FIRST TRIAL


"After nearly six months of interrogation, they came to the conclusion that I was an incredibly harmful, dangerous man. My first trial was not public, but my parents were present. When I was allowed to speak, I denied everything. Feri, a seminary student, was called in to testify against me. Under torture and a sentence of death, he had said many untrue things about several of us, and his sentence was reduced to life in prison. However, when they brought him before the court, he started to defend me and denied everything he had admitted under torture.

The judge became very angry and asked the prosecutor how he could have brought such a witness to the trial. Then Feri turned around and there, he showed the shackles on his wrists and ankles as crude as an illustration in a book. In the deathly silence that fell over the courtroom, Feri turned, and the only sound to be heard was the clanking of his chains as he made his way down the hall."

An Encounter With Richard Wurmbrand


"Fifteen days before the second trial, I was placed in a separate prison cell, and in that place, I first met Richard Wurmbrand. In this cell there were sixteen people and just six beds. Between the beds was a narrow space to walk. When the guards pushed me in through the door of the cell, I stood face to face with a large man over two meters tall. I greeted my fellow prisoners and said, “Good evening.” I looked up, and that tall man introduced himself. He was Richard Wurmbrand. As we talked about our situation, he said that he knew that there was a plan to attack the Reformed seminary and that I was one of the early victims.


After a couple of days, another prisoner was pushed into the cell. It was Dezso Adorjani. He didn’t recognize me, because by this time I too was skinny and had a beard. He had changed. His skin was darkened; his face was bitter; and his heavy eyebrows had grown together. I said, Dezso, what did they ask you? He answered that he had signed a statement saying that I had been together with him at a meeting with one of the professors. In my soul I had no will to blame him because I knew the tortures he had endured. He is, by the way, my friend and a musical genius who played the organ at the Farkas Utca Church and led the choir there.


Wurmbrand was standing beside us when this conversation occurred, and referring to the paper that Dezso had signed, he said, “So you lied?” He went on to say that many people had died, giving their lives for the truth. He encouraged Dezso to knock on the cell door in the morning to call someone from the court in order to state that he had signed the paper only because he had been tortured and beaten. Dezso accepted this idea. Our church must be forever thankful to Richard Wurmbrand that the secret police were not able to turn the trial against our seminary professors.


Because of Wurmbrand's help and encouragement, Dezso was brave enough to knock on the door the next morning and recant his confession."


SECOND TRIAL


"In my second trial, old Professor Jeno Horvath appeared, a small, fragile man with a hunched back, a lovely man. I can really honor him as I remember him. When he came to the trial, the judge berated him, telling him that he ought to be ashamed of his involvement in crimes like mine. This was how the court of justice greeted him. Jenobaci said that he was usually present at the worships, and that the prayer I was accused of praying never happened, neither before March 15, 1957, nor after it.


At the end of this trial they gave me an opportunity to speak. I said that they had proved nothing against me and I asked them to please release me. Afterwards they took me back to prison, back into cell number 4. At first, I really waited for the moment when they would open the door and release me. I waited like this every day for half a year, but on March 8, the small lower door of our cell opened. A soldier squatted there shouting my name. He gave me a small piece of paper and demanded that I sign it. That paper stated that I was sentenced to eleven years in prison; that after my release I would have ten more years without civil rights; and that all my property would be confiscated.


So that is how the calmer part of my prison time began. I was no longer hopeful for release. I could only think of how to stay alive, how to survive, and I wondered about those back home. Men in prison think about such things until they become tired of it and realize that home life is very, very far away."

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