• Beth Lantinga

The Interrogation

I wonder whether everyone who has endured a terrible physical assault finds it difficult to talk about the details. As you will see in the entry below, Denes Fulop skimmed over the beatings, much like many of the others we interviewed. They were reluctant, I think, to revisit and relive their harrowing experiences. He tells his story.

"After the arrest, and after a wait of seven days, the interrogation began.I dressed hastily before a guard put a tin blindfold over my eyes. Shoved out of the cell in my lace-less boots, I stumbled ahead of the guards down the corridor. They took me to a small, windowless, interrogation room in the prison basement. One of the guards removed the blindfold and I saw a table and chair cemented to the floor. That’s where I sat. On another table about four meters away I saw my glasses. Seated at that table was a small, well-dressed man. He held the rank of lieutenant and apparently was my interrogator. Without Without saying a word, he walked over to me and handed me my glasses.

Denes Fulop, 2003, the summer of the interview

Then he walked back to his table and picked up a piece of paper which evidently held questions and information about me. I’m quite sure there must have been some microphones hidden in the room so that others could listen. With no good or bad will, I can say that I thought that this calm and mild man, Ferenc Fenyes, was not born for this sort of work. I soon realized that I should say nothing other than giving short answers to his questions. I never mentioned any names or events. I was so uncommunicative that Fenyes became powerless, impotent. We spent many minutes in silence.

At first the questions were simply factual. Who are your father and mother? What is your occupation? Who are your friends at the seminary? What room did you inhabit at the seminary? Then the real questions about an October 1956 student meeting began. It seems that they had arrested everyone who had attended this meeting independent of the role they played. So, three years after this meeting, I was arrested and put in prison. I can say that this three-year gap was a help for me. Many times I was asked about the details of my life, and many times I could only answer that I couldn’t remember because I truly couldn’t remember. The events they referred to simply did not exist for me anymore.

Their method of interrogation was clever. They only asked questions and never said anything else. Unfortunately, there were many frightened people who gave long full answers and offered many details about their meetings. While in prison I learned that one of my fellow prisoners had talked about me.

That talkative fellow is now a successful leader in the church. It was common practice to put informants into cells with others to listen and observe. Because this man shared our prison life and the details of his interrogation, he earned our trust. We were all in it together, so back in the cell, we often answered questions that we had avoided during interrogation. In this way our informant was able to provide information to the prison officers and so win better treatment for himself.

Sometime later, when they weren’t getting anywhere with me, the beatings began. Finally, some guards came to my cell one day, pushed me around, shouted at me and threatened to come back in the afternoon. They didn’t come, and after that, the beatings stopped. The interrogations went on but in a calmer fashion. By this time, they knew enough about me whether I talked more or not."


 © Beth Lantinga 2020