All this week on 9NEWS Mornings, we’re highlighting incredible stories of survival … and what you can do if you find yourself in a similar situation.
KUSA – Margit Toth was one of the more than 200,000 refugees who fled from Hungary amid the 1956 revolution against the Soviet regime, which resulted in the deaths of more than 2,500 Hungarians.
It was a historical event that people in Hungary couldn’t talk about for 33 years, until the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Toth came to Denver after fleeing Hungary. She was 21 years old when her husband, Jeno, became a founding member of the uprising in their small town of Inota – which was far from the street fighting that erupted in the capital city of Budapest.
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“You could never say anything bad about the government, or else you’d be in trouble,” Anna Abbott, Margit Toth’s daughter, said.
The family knew their only hope for survival was to escape.
“We couldn’t plan on it to be, when we gonna go,” Toth said. “Nobody was supposed to know.”
Abbott was two years old when her family fled Hungary. She said her mom put on two dresses, and put another two dresses on her.
“That’s how we left,” Abbott said. “That’s all we had.”
A guide led them nearly 20 miles under the cover of darkness. Abbott’s parents took turns holding the toddler on their backs and keeping her quiet.
“That was hard,” Toth said. “Because she was crying and she wasn’t supposed to cry.”
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If the Soviet soldiers heard the toddler cry, the Horvath family could have been shot, Toth said.
The family spent several months in Austria with help from the Red Cross. They left Hungary in November 1956 and ultimately didn’t reach Denver until March 1957.
They had to travel from Salzburg, Austria to Bremerhaven, Germany. From there, they took a boat to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey and finally a bus to Denver.
“I think, you know, I always felt safe since I’m here,” Toth said.
Toth and her family now travel freely to Hungary every few years to see family, but they say they consider Denver their home.
“We did it good,” Toth said. “We made it okay. All the things happen in our lives, but we made it.”
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