Karol Hučko

Born in 1926 in Šaľa in Slovakia. His father worked as a hired labourer while his mother looked after Karol and three siblings at home. He first attended Slovak school. However, when the south of Slovakia was occupied by the Hungarians in November 1938 he spent the next two years at a Hungarian municipal school.

After completing elementary school he began an apprenticeship to be a barber, which he completed in 1943. At that time he was a member of the Hungarian paramilitary youth organisation Levente. This was one reason he responded voluntarily to a Hungarian Ministry of National Defence call for the training of aviation mechanics. He first had to undergo three months of basic military training, which he started in June 1944 at the 22nd infantry regiment in Komárno. However, as Soviet troops were drawing close to the Hungarian border at the start of September 1944 the Hungarian command sent the entire regiment to defend the eastern border at Transylvania. The soldiers were taken by transport to the town of Csíkszereda (today Miercurea Ciuc in Romania) and from there moved to the mountains, where they carried out trench work. However, after three weeks of defensive fighting almost the entire regiment was captured by the Soviets in early October.

Following a week or so in a provisional camp, the Hungarian POWS were transferred to a larger transit camp in the town of Szováta (Romania’s Sovata). From there they were forced to continue on foot a few days later to Brasov, where they spent roughly three weeks at a large transit camp.

Subsequently they were taken by train via Ploješti (Ploiești) to the USSR. In the middle of October 1944, after a journey of three weeks, they reached a spot around 10 km from the town of Chelyabinsk (Shagol st.) that was home to transit camp no. 1, the largest facility of its type for POWs. There they remained in quarantine until March 1945. They then went before a commission which classified the prisoners with regard to work, depending on their state of health. Huczko was placed in the second category, who were assigned construction work. This soon changed, however.

One month later he and other prisoners from the third category were transferred to a kolkhoz administered by the camp’s commanders. There the prisoners farmed the adjacent fields, growing food for the entire camp complex. In the end he spent two years at camp no. 4, where conditions were relatively good. As well as working in the fields, he was assigned to heavy work in a quarry. When his health deteriorated once more he returned to the kolkhoz and in the winter was again employed on the buildings, including homes for invalid veterans.

They began releasing Hungarian prisoners from the Chelyabinsk POW camp in early 1948. However, Huczko did not leave until a transport in September 1948. The journey back to Hungary took two weeks. He was subsequently taken along with a number of Czechoslovaks via a repatriation camp in Máramarossziget (Sighetu Marmaṭiei in Romania), where the first identification and selection of released prisoners was conducted, to Čierna nad Tisou. From there he went to a transit camp in Košice.

Karol Huczko arrived in Šaľa – via Žilina, Leopoldov and Galanta – on 29 September. At home he learned that his father had died on the Russian Front during the war. On his return he initially did casual construction work. In 1949 he enlisted in the Czechoslovak Army, undergoing his five-month basic military service in Jičín. In 1950 he got a job with the Czechoslovak state railway, where he worked until his retirement.

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