“I did not want to go to war, actually no one did. We just had to. We heard about what had happend to our soldiers at the Don river, and saw the amputated men, so we knew what was coming. But this was something else, now the Soviets had attacked our country, killed and raped our people and were hungry for revenge. We know that all what stood between them and our families.
We felt fear and horror, not bravery or patriotism. My company was surrounded near the city of Karcag, with no hope left. We knew that they (the Soviets) were out of food themselves, so they did not take POWs. Only some 20 of us were kept alive, the others were shot on sight when they were surrendering.
Then a long rail trip came deep inside to Siberia, and 5 years of hard labour in a forest. A lot of young people froze to death, starved to death, were beaten to death or simply they just died due to exhaustion. Somehow my family got a message that I died. When the Soviets released us from captivity, they only took us to Ukraine on train, from there we had to walk.
We had no water, food, money, or even clothes. We used sacks to make some kind of clothing, and ate frozen carrots from the ground so not to starve. When I enlisted, I was a miner at home, 197 cm tall and 90 kgs. When I arrived home again I was only 47 kgs. When the villagers saw me they did not recognize me at first, but then someone who did told the priest that a miracle happend, I got home.
Only I did from our village, the others were amputees, but none of the other prisoners survived. After I had met my family, the priest told everyone to go to the church for a mass.
There I realised how lucky I am. I saw all the women in black, the widows and the mothers and daughters.”
– Private Kálmán Verebélyi. Hungarian Army. 1944-1945. POW 1945-49. Eastern Front World War Two
This story was documented by Battles and Beers (TM) Every soldier has a story, and every story deserves to be told.