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For the Love of Freedom 3

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KISH Not intentionally! And you are wrong about your

mother, Feri. She is a very strong woman. As much as

I admire your intelligent courage and your risking your

life to fight for freedom, I admire your mother’s

courage the more!

FERI Is that so?

KISH Yes. Don’t get me wrong, Feri! I am a patriot myself

and I truly appreciate what you and the others have

done for our country. I shall never forget this revolution

and I could hug each one of our young people for what

they have done for our country. You certainly

reconfirmed my faith in our youth just when I began

to have my doubts about them.

I can now go on teaching my students contentedly

for the rest of my career…


KISH But it is your mother’s courage I admire the most…

Yes, she panicked, but she did not become paralyzed with

fear… Knowing that she might be watched, that she

could be arrested herself for contravening the

authorities, she walked all afternoon, making

inquiries, collecting money for you, borrowing what she

could… She made it possible for you to escape, Feri!

FERI I did not ask for it.

KISH I am not so sure of that… You need looking after in

ways that don’t even occur to you.

You are a perceptive young man, but there is a lot

you don’t know or appreciate precisely

because you are so young…

FERI For example?

KISH Your mother loves you more than anything in this

world… You are her only child, and she has dedicated

her life to you. I had many discussions with her while

you were in my classes and I know this.

FERI I know that, too. I know only too well how much she

loves me. She suffocates me with it!

KISH But do you have any idea what it might be like for her

to arrange for a permanent separation from the one she

loves more than anything in this world? Do you have

any appreciation of the sacrifice, selflessness, and

courage contained in that act?!

FERI Perhaps not…

KISH Well, I don’t think I could have done that… I think

that in her situation I would have been telling myself

that somehow there is some hope, and that I won’t have

to lose you… I would have been paralyzed with fear and

worry, and would not have been able to act. Your mother

is a phenomenal person, Feri!

FERI I know. Still, I would have to get away from her in any

case. I would have to separate myself from my parents

even if I should stay here… I have to become my own

person. This is very clear to me.

KISH There you go surprising me again! You can be wise

beyond your years…

FERI I do not feel wise… I keep discovering how stupid I had

been! I was so sure I could trust my father!

KISH Your father is a much-respected man, Feri. He is a man

of integrity. And he is not disappointed in you like he

was when you were skipping school. Your mother

has told me that he is very proud of you again since the

revolution. Look!



Of course you can trust your father! Look at all this

money! He raised most of this for you! And he also

thinks you should try to escape to Austria!

And so do I… Here, take the money!

FERI STEPPING BACK I don’t want his money!

KISH Be sensible, Feri. You will need money to get to the

border, and you may need a lot more after that…

This is not the time to declare your independence

from your parents…

FERI This may be precisely the time!

KISH I don’t understand you…

FERI Do you know that my father has joined the

Communist Party at my mother’s behest?

KISH Who told you?


Someone has been here!


What was that?!… Did you hear that?

FERI That was your mother upstairs flushing the toilet!

KISH Don’t make fun of me, Feri… My nerves are pretty much

frayed, and you can’t blame me. And you are not

making this any easier… See?


Someone has been here!


CAN LOOK IN. Feri, you exasperate me! You must

give me your word that you won’t have visitors here!

We will both be discovered for sure if you do!

FERI You have my word, Miss Kish. I only arranged for one

person to come to me, and that in an emergency.

He has now gone back to his army unit. There will

be no more visitors. You can trust my word. It’s my

father’s you should worry about… He is the one that has

sold out!

KISH Oh! You young — idealists… Just the other day I talked to

another idealist…Only he is a communist. He believes that

the ideals of communism have been betrayed

by its practitioners! He fought against other communists

and joined the revolution to purify the country so that

he could start communism all over again!

FERI A communist is an international…He is no patriot.

KISH He thinks he is! He believes the Russians should not

be here… That they are doing communism more harm

than good. Many of the leaders of the revolutionary

government were former Soviet-trained communists.

Imre Nagy was a communist along with Pal Maleter, the

new Minister of Defense. He was arrested while

negotiating with the Russian Military Command and

Nagy had to seek asylum in the Yugoslav Embassy.

FERI Yeah, he sought protection from other communists!

Many of us thought even Nagy would not last long in

power after the Russians left. We have experienced

communist “reformers” before…Rakosi was followed by

Gero! Some reform!! More like a slight tone change on

the same red chameleon.

KISH You may have a point there…Kadar himself has been a

reform communist too, and just look at what he is doing!

FERI The problem was that the revolution happened

spontaneously, and there was a temporary vacuum of

leadership at the top. But I don’t believe the Communists

could have hijacked the revolution in the long run, and I

tell you why. The workers were organizing Revolutionary

Committees in every major factory and institution.

From their ranks the new leadership would have

emerged naturally and legitimately. I myself

presided over one of those factory meetings as a

representative of the local fighting unit. The

workers there said they had a problem. I said,

“What’s the problem?” They said they wanted to elect

someone to the leadership who was in the leadership

before… He was a good man, but he was a communist.

KISH So what did you say?

FERI I said the nation needed all the good men it could muster.

So you see a few former communists like Maleter and

maybe even Nagy may have survived without Soviet

backing, but only as good men, not as Communists! The

days of the Communists in power would have ended the

moment the Soviet troops were gone, I am sure of that!

The whole idea of communism was already discredited

before the revolution started!

In fact that was the overriding sentiment that gave rise

to the revolution in the first place, the sentiment that

communism was just a smokescreen for the blatant

subjugation and exploitation of our country by

Imperial Russia, itself disguised as “The Soviet

Union.” I would bet most of the “Soviet Republics”

want to be out as much as we do!

KISH Well, Feri, even if you are correct, I can tell you that there

is much more to this world than politics. The world needs

peace and prosperity more than it needs political

idealism… Most people don’t care a hoot about politics,

period. They just want to be able to carry on with their

lives…We need reason and compromise to rule us,

not demagoguery.


You must not lose respect for your father, Feri. He acted

like a mature, reasonable man. He did not lose the

respect of his men. On the contrary! He is an important

man. He has twelve hundred men in the factory working

under him. He did it for them. He had to join the newly

named Communist Party, or lose his position.

Everybody knew this.

FERI Really?

KISH Really. And his men begged him to join the

Communist Party if that’s what it took

for him to stay. They are well aware of his

sentiments, and appreciate that your

father is sacrificing his principles for their sake,

and they respect him for that, too.

They simply did not want an outsider

– likely a true communist – to take over the

leadership of the factory.

FERI So you believe he is actually preventing the communist

takeover of the leadership by staying?…

KISH Exactly! You see, Feri, far from “selling out” – he is actually

continuing to fight effectively against the communists,

the only possible way he can under the circumstances.

Now do you understand? Your father made the correct

choice, as usual. And the correct choice was a reasonable


FERI That may be, but I must wonder … Some things can not

be compromised, or they are lost. Freedom of speech is

one of those things… Our integrity is another.

The day I compromise my integrity or my freedom is the

day I shall lose both.

KISH Have it your way, but do not blame your father. For now,

the revolution is lost, but it will not have been in vain…

There will have to be changes made here as a result of

what you and others have done. But first, there will be

retribution… You must escape that retribution, or you will

not survive! I beg of you, Feri, go!

FERI It will be very difficult for me to leave. For I am a patriot

and a freedom fighter; How can I choose between my

country and freedom? I have to have both.

KISH It’s more like a choice of life and death, Feri.

But your mother has found out that one of your former

classmates is organizing a group to escape to Austria.

They have a plan.

You can go with them if you have some money.

That is why your parents have been raising money for



They are meeting tonight, at ten… You are supposed to

meet them there. They are expecting you. Your mother

has arranged it.

FERI Who is organizing the escape?

KISH Pal Martas… He is a clever, practical young man.

I used to teach him. You will need his shrewdness on the

journey… But I must warn you, Feri. He is not as

honest as you are… Beware of him, he is shifty!

I am not sure you can trust him.

FERI I know him… Not my favourite type of person,

but I think he should be all right.

It won’t be him I will worry about. There is a lot more

on my mind!



All right, I will go to the meeting, but I will not take this

money. I have a few Forints myself… Nothing like that,


but enough to pay my way to the border…

KISH As you wish… But don’t bear grudges against your

parents, Feri! They are tremendous people…


My own position has not been easy, either. I have an

invalid mother upstairs to care for. I am her only support.

If something should happen to me…

But you are welcome to stay here for as long as you need

to, Feri. I want you to know that…

FERI And I want you to know that I do appreciate what you

are doing for me, and the risks you are taking to hide

me. And thank you for the advice. At this point I am

not sure myself what I will do, only that I must have

freedom to consider life worth living. I feel I need

freedom like I need the air. I will never surrender it

again! And I will fight for it if I have to.

KISH That’s what my fiancée said also… Those were his exact

words… He was very idealistic, very principled, very

decent… and shy. You remind me of him a lot,

Feri. He said those very words before he went to the

Russian front…He left me… He never came back.

Fighting leaves people dead, Feri. You must choose life

and escape now! For your mother’s sake… and mine!




End of Scene

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