by Ernest Nagy
Through the good offices of a Hungarian historian-journalist who is working on a movie script dealing with the 1956 Hungarian revolution, I have recently received one half of the 600-page dossier maintained on me by the Hungarian Secret Police of yore. This stems from my service at the first post of my diplomatic career (1952-56) in Budapest in the really bad old days when Stalin brutally suppressed virtually all nations east of Checkpoint Charlie.
Following is the dossier entry for May 21, 1952, classified as “Szigoruan Titkos!” — Strictly Secret:
“Otherwise Nagy is very happy because, being a good looking young man (I did not make that up, author) he has not found, among the young ladies of the Legation, an appropriate girl friend. Today he literally beamed with happiness as he escorted into the coffee shop the new, young, black-haired girl newly arrived from Rome.”
This beautiful, vivacious, gifted young lady died on August 1, 2015. I miss her. A lot.
I had arrived at my first post, Budapest, on April 4, 1952. Helen and I were married on both October 9 & 11, 1953. Reason: The first was the civil ceremony before the Communist Party Secretary of Budapest’s 5th district, an Ana Pauker clone. The second ceremony was performed at the Minister’s residence (we were still a Legation) by a military chaplain flown in from Salzburg. Some months later I was secretly shown photos of the wedding reception, taken surreptitiously by the Hungarian Secret Police, the AVH.
About Ernest and Helen NagyI was born on May 1, 1927 in Hamilton Square, NJ. My Dad was a Seventh Day Adventist Minister and we lived in Bridgeport, CT; Perth Amboy & Metuchen, NJ; Chicago, IL; Toledo, OH and Cleveland, OH. Both my parents were born in Hungary (though my Mom was ethnic German); neither birthplace is part of Hungary today. It was in Toledo that I joined the Foreign Service after my studies at the U. of New Mexico.
Helen Stephens Nagy—her parents were Greek despite the surname. Her Dad, Charles (Costa) Karshakis, a baker, was redubbed Stephens by the immigration officer at Ellis Island. Helen was born May 20, 1928 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the sixth of seven children. She graduated the U. of Cincinnati in 1950. Helen joined the Foreign Service, as a Secretary, in November, 1951. Because she had volunteered for a difficult project in Washington, she was given her choice of posts. She wisely chose Rome, yet some six months later was transferred to Budapest, directly into my life. She arrived there on her birthday in 1952! Our only child, David, was born in Budapest.
It was in Toledo that I joined the Foreign Service after my studies at the U. of New Mexico and served in the FS for 34 years in the following foreign posts, in order: Budapest, Salzburg (two months; helped open, served at refugee camp, Camp Roeder), Berlin, Copenhagen, Rome, Heidelberg (POLAD to CINCUSAREUR), Berlin (again—as, in effect, DCM), London. All great assignments: Budapest the most intense and professionally enjoyable; Rome the best.
In addition, was Diplomat-in-Residence at U. of Arkansas—much enjoyed. Also had a gig at the Pentagon.