They tried to isolate Tõkés from his family too, and increasingly worrying news reached us from Timisoara.
At 15:00 on December 16, brother András Tõkes called on me and informed me with great joy that he had heard from Timisoara that László had won. He could stay in his residence, and could receive anybody. But our elation lasted only a few hours. It turned out that this was only a misleading manoeuvre.
For the authorities had finally ordered that the demonstrators who had been trying to defend the Tõkés home should be shot at, and we learned that László and Edit had been carried off to an unknown place. The killing that swiftly led to the dictator's downfall had begun, in Timisoara.
We listened to the radio all the time, and passed on to each other the telephone messages we received from Timisoara.
On December 19, 1 travelled to Bucharest, where I had a hearing at the Supreme Court on the 20th.
I was startled to see how unaware the people in Bucharest were of the horrors of Timisoara, and also how strong the general collective fear in the capital still was. I told a colleague simply that I also was very afraid, because I was László Tõkés's solicitor. She at once excused herself, she urgently had to go to a hearing...
My intellectual friends in Bucharest were sincerely fearful for my fate, our fate, and admonished me to be careful with every step and word. At the flat of a Romanian friend from student days, Sile Dan, we listened to Ceausescu's December 20 broadcast speech. Ceausescu was no longer able to ignore the as yet localised unrest. We at once said how good it was that he had called a mass meeting for the 21st, since something may happen there. Indeed, defiance arrived in Bucharest with Ceausescul's appearance at this mass meeting. To his horror, he found he was being heckled. The shooting in the capital started there; the next day the Ceausescus fled.
Before this, however, I went on foot down Magheru Avenue to the Piata Romana - every 20 metres stood a uniformed young Securitate man, in plain clothes
I put it in that paradoxical way because they wore completely identical civilian clothes. Bucharest people said about these young Securitate men that they came from orphanages and were brought up to love, Ceausescu as their father. It is believed that they became the "terrorists " who did the shooting and murdering during the few days of the revolution. But they were never put before a court. They simply disappeared.
I arrived back in Tirgu Mures on the morning of December 21, before the unrest broke out in Bucharest. Going home at noon I saw that armoured cars were guarding the building of the old townhall, where the County Committee of the Romanian Communist Party and the People's Council were headquartered. But in the afternoon the demonstrators assembled, and I too went there. The security forces were in fearful readiness. Members of the antiterrorist brigade also appeared, wearing masks so that they would not be recognised. We watched the events from the footpath in the spirit of sympathisers, since in my already exposed position I thought that this was not the best time to fall into the hands of the authorities.
The crowd chanted the slogans with extraordinary discipline and only in Romanian. This was necessary to show that we Hungarians in the crowd were not irredentists or revisionists and did not seek the separation of Transylvania from Romania, but only wanted to rid ourselves - and Romanians - of the dictatorship. I loved it most when they chanted/we chanted: "Doina Cornea/Lászlo Tõkés [Cornea a prominent Romanian dissident-opponent of the regime.]
We went home at 21:00. There, I was warned by telephone to spend the night away from home, and thus in a state of shock I heard the shootings while standing in a neighbour's courtyard.
In Tirgu Mures during the revolution, we had six dead heroes: Sándor Bodoni (H, aged 33). Lajos Hegyi (H, 25), Adrian Hidos (R, 21), Ilie Muntean (R, 30), Károly Pajkó (H, 33) and Ernõ Tamás (H, 38) victims drawn from both communities.
Next day I went to my office. But by 11:00 I was again in the main square because I had learned that a new demonstration was beginning. This demonstration was initiated by the workers of the tannery, who summoned the then manager of the local canning plant to join them. He was the internationally known Hungarian adversary of the regime, Károly Király, who had been degraded to his factory position from his former Party rank because of his opposition to Ceausescu's policies on minorities. Király put himself at the head of the crowd. They went to the town centre, to the square in front of the town hall. Here, with Ceausescu still in power in Bucharest. Király addressed the crowd, But careful eyes noticed that the guns of an armoured car were being turned towards him. He was pulled down from the chair atop the vehicle from which he had been speaking.
For reasons of safety, the crowd went over to the other side of the main square, thus moving away from the united forces of the Securitate, police and military. It was this crowd that I joined when I arrived in the main square. Károly Király announced that we were taking control of our fate and placing it in our own hands, that we had
had enough of the dictatorship, and that the joint Hungarian-Romanian Faternity Democratic Forum fighting for a democratic Romania and equality for all had been formed.
(I suddenly remembered that as early as the previous March, Király had called me and said: "Elõd, everything is going to pieces here, Ceausescu cannot maintain himself in power for long. Let us think about and put together the programme of the Democratic Forum." I answered that we should think about it, but nothing should be written down, that we should not produce any written documents for the Securitate. We left the matter there.)
Aurel Florian, a Romanian, announced at the rally that he was the chairman of the Social Democratic Party and fully supported the programme of the overthrow of the dictatorship and the creation of a democratic Romania which provided equal rights for all citizens.
I ran home to call my wife that she should not miss this. At 13:00 we listened to the news at my mother's flat opposite the town hall. And it was then that we heard the best news of our lives over Budapest's Kossuth Radio: the Ceausescus had fled the capital.
We quickly ran down to the main square. The military was in retreat, and the crowd invaded the town hall. They scattered papers and carried them out and made stacks of them in front of the building. They burned them, together with Ceausescu's pictures and works. I told the people to leave the documents alone, that we would need them. Those who heard me accepted my argument, but there were so many people inside that it was not possible to tell everybody.
I went to the front of the building where Romanians and Hungarians embraced each other in tears. We were unbelievably happy and sincerely loved each other. I stood at the entrance to the Palace of Culture when Károly Király appeared out of the town hall. He was immediately accepted by everybody as the true, rightful leader of the county. Király noticed me, took my arm and said. "Come Elõd, we need you." We went up to the Hall of Mirrors inside the Palace of Culture, and Király told the people to let him confer with me. He said that we must urgently make contact with the National Salvation Front that had just declared itself to be in control in Bucharest. We had to assure them of our support, and should therefore travel to Bucharest.
After this, Károly Király addressed the people, and he was welcomed rapturously. Romanian and Hungarian speakers alternated, and suddenly a large group of youths brought the Hungarian writer András Sütõ to the scene. He spoke about how, for the first time in history, Hungarians and Romanians were fighting together in full agreement and identity of interests. He warned that this unity must be guarded, and that this was the only possible way to secure a happy future, Long live fraternity! Long live free democratic Romania which provides equal rights for all its citizenst! András Sütõ
ended his very effective address. To the speech, given in two languages, the crowd answered in Romanian: Niciodata Sovinism [Never again any chauvinism!] It was Sütõ who three months later was to be singled out for such brutal treatment by the Romanian mob.
In the meantime a Romanian teacher called Nistor Man appeared and said that he had been a political prisoner. He began to behave as the spokesman of the Romanians. A new county leadership was discussed; the names of candidates and self-nominated candidates were flying around. I never liked such scenes, having no lust for power. I told Király that I was going home to write my article about the Tõkés lawsuit, and if I was needed they should phone me.
I learned from the Hungarian journalist Gyöngyi Bodolai that the local Hungarian Vörös Zászló newspaper had become the Népujság. Since the last, December 22, issue of the Vörös Zászló had published an article by the Bishop of Oradea, László Papp, basely slandering László Tõkés, I thought how beautiful it would be if the first number of the reformed Népujság could publish the truth about the Tõkés affair.
I went home and started to write the article. but I got a phone call that I should travel to Bucharest as the designated leader of the six-member (three Romanians, three Hungarians) deputation from the county.
I therefore decided to write my article in Romanian so that the Scinteia [the former Romanian Party daily] should also be able to publish it. Let the Romanian population of the whole country also learn the truth about the Tõkés affair, I thought. To write my article I needed my file, and therefore I went to my office. The building was closed, but the light was on in the office of Justin Ene, the Romanian chairman of the court. I threw a pebble at the window. He greeted me with great joy and invited me to his office. We emptied our glasses to victory: Justin Ene, Romanian vice-chairman Emil Nutiu, Dorin Stefanelli, the Romanian chair-man of the municipal court, and I.
It was during the small talk that Ene informed me how he had worried about me, because I had been on the Sec-uritate's death list.
I took this opportunity to arrange with the relevant authorities that the Hungarian workers Mihály Szenczi and Márton Tordai should be set free next day. The two friends were sentenced to six months' imprisonment during the recent Party Congress because they had painted anti-Ceausescu caricatures and slogans on the pavement. The Hungarian Television made a report about the terrible tortures that Szenczi and Tordai had gone through. This report was finished as early as February, but unfortunately was not broadcast at the time.
At 10:00 on December 23 the six of us set out in two jeeps which we had filled
with fine foods from the Party stores so that the television people and their defenders should not suffer any shortage (they had told us by phone that they did not have sufficient food).
The six-member delegation was made up of Attila Jakabffy (H), Elõd Kincses (H), Dana Olaru (R), Alexandru Pal (R), Vasile Pol (R), and Ferenc Salati (H). All of us had the Romanian tricolour on our arm, and our jeeps carried the Romanian flag with the hole ripped in the middle (where the Communist crest had been), Károly Király gave us written credentials as the delegates of the Mures County Fraternity Democratic Forum.
On the way to Bucharest we saw only happy people. Everybody greeted us with the victory "V" sign, and nowhere did we see any of the formerly omnipresent roadside billboards with Ceausescu quotations, portraits, etc. The dictator had vanished as if he had never existed. At least, so we thought then.
In Brasov we drove down a 300-metre stretch of road while a machine gun rattled constantly nearby. We were often stopped by civilians, soldiers, policemen, and asked to identify ourselves. But the credentials issued by Károly Király helped everywhere.
We arrived in Bucharest as it was getting dark. We had difficulty getting in through gate No. 2 of the television centre. We had to dim our headlights, as we were in the middle of fighting.
They did not want to admit us to the main building, saying that it was dangerous and that too many delegations had already appeared on the screen anyway, etc. Finally, Attila Jakabffy and Vasile Pol somehow got in, and shortly afterwards they appeared on the television. Jakabffy spoke in Hungarian. Both stressed the great understanding between Romanians and Hungarians in our county. Equality was emphasized.
I can only give such a brief account of their message because while we listened to them, the shooting resumed. This somewhat diverted my attention.
In an outbuilding of the television centre I sat down to finish my article about the Tõkés affair. But I started to talk to a handsome gentleman of about 35 years, wearing a trenchcoat. It turned out that he was Colonel Oan'a, the conunander of the defenders of the television centre. These defenders lay in combat readiness at the foot of the perimeter fence. When we looked on them, we thought of how the jubilant atmosphere in Tirgu Mures was already so different.
Colonel Oanwa told me that I should hurry up with my writing, because the circus would soon begin. When I asked what sort of circus he meant, he said that the "terrorists" would soon come, as they started usually at 20:00. His forecast was correct, and the shooting began in earnest.
I withdrew to a small room of the outbuilding. Soon the gunfire became very heavy: Jakabffy and Pol were stuck in the main building.
Thinking about it today, I find the exchange of fire very strange: first we heard a muffled shot, to which the military responded for at least 15 minutes with Kalashnikov volleys. The firing ended, and a loudspeaker announced that an ambulance should come to the site of the loudspeaker: a wounded man had to be taken away. The voice added: "Do not be afraid, they will not shoot!" How did the announcer know this? It also happened during the shooting that the soldiers were 'Warned over the loudspeaker to be careful not to shoot at each other. "This is a tragedy," the announcer added. In short, I suspect now that it was indeed more of a "circus" than I had the time to realise then.
When I asked Colonel Oana why the tank guns did not shoot at the houses from which the terrorists were firing, he said that tenants may have been left in the houses. He said that Ceausescu had had the television centre designed in such a way that if it should happen that somebody got hold of it by a trick, the invaders would not be able to defend it. The defence should have been provided from these houses on the opposite side of the street. And these houses, which had been occupied by the Economic Office of the Party, all had underground exits and caches. I asked him whether there had been any resistance to the revolutionary takeover of the television centre from its Ceausescu guards. Not at all, he answered, the whole thing was a simple flick of a switch ("schimbare de buton").
But Oana said the position of the defenders was very difficult, and they would need military reinforcement. (When I got home I told this to the county military command. They answered that I should rest assured, there would not be any problem...)
The next morning at the television centre, I addressed a pretty young woman wearing a snow-white coat and a Red Cross armband. I asked her where the blood on her coat came from, and had there been many victims? The lady answered that she had no knowledge of any serious case, and that the blood was the blood of Nicu Ceausescu's son. How come?
She said that a Securitate man had stabbed Nicu in his stomach when he was brought to the television, and she as a doctor had bandaged him. She added: "Imagine, Nicu was so stupid that he thought he had come to Bucharest to take power. He stopped in front of television cameras to address the nation, which loved him very much. Only when he was called 'little prince' did he realise that he had been tricked."
In order to leave the television centre that morning we approached our vehicles with our hands up. There was not a scratch on the jeeps, althought the soldiers had been shot at from the upper floor of the nearby house and had returned fire. Through a passage of 70-80 metres, we drove to the main street, where the traffic was moving undisturbed!
We went to the main Bucharest publishing buildings, and I took my article to the editorial offices of the former Party paper, Scinteia. It had not yet been typed and I began dictating it to a typist. When I was half-way through, Jakabffy came and said that we must leave at once, because the terrorists were approaching. So I left the manuscript there. and the former Party paper, Adevarul, published it on December 25 and 26.
1 also wrote a short article about the Fraternity Democratic Forum having been formed in Tirgu Mures under the leadership of Károly Király,- and its announcement that it had joined the newly-declared and self-appointed National Salvation Front in Bucharest. For this material there was no room in the paper.
In that connection, Jakabffy said he had talked to Ion Iliescu, the leader of the National Salvation Front, Iliescu said he was very happy about the news from Tirgu Mures and wanted to draw Károly Király into the national leadership.
At our lunch stop on the drive home, Jakabffy and Pal were recognised by local people. They congratulated them and said that finally the Hungarians would be left alone, and that we shall get along well together in the new democracy. We were so privileged that for our sake they broke the prohibition of the moment, and served alcoholic drinks (to us only!). On this occasion too we experienced the affection with which the Romanians treated us Hungarians. It was also mentioned that it was again possible to speak Hungarian on Romanian Television. I stress I am quoting the words of unknown Romanian persons.