Tuesday, 12 March 2013


András Pető moves on

Today, 12 March, is the 75th anniversary of Hitler's union (Anschluss) of Austria with Germany:
On March 12, 1938, German troops marched into Austria. Hitler announced his Anschluss, and a plebiscite was finally held on April 10. Whether the plebiscite was rigged or the resulting vote simply a testament to Austrian terror at Hitler's determination, the Führer garnered a whopping 99.7 percent approval for the union of Germany and Austria.

Austria was now a nameless entity absorbed by Germany. It was not long before the Nazis soon began their typical ruthless policy of persecuting political dissidents and, of course, all Jewish citizens.

András Pető was a Jew. In 1911 he come to Vienna as a young adult. He qualified in medicine and became an Austrian citizen. At times he worked as a doctor in sanatoria in and around Vienna but perhaps writing was a more absorbing interest. He married, though by his subsequent account they were together for a very short time. He amassed a collection of esoteric books. Perhaps he spent some time in Berlin, perhaps he even visited New York. Pletyka. In truth we know very little indeed of his adult life up until the Anschluss, only what very little he chose to tell in Hungary in the years after the Second War.

After 12 March 1939 András Pető's life could never be the same. According to his childhood friend Andor Németh, András Pető had a bit of a fright from the Nazis, being forced to stand at a gate with a placard around his neck:


He soon left Vienna (leaving behind most of his books, and his wife) and turned up in Budapest. He was no penniless refugee but had loads of money in Swiss Francs, a legacy from Maria Kloepfer (who was she?). He lived in a hotel, profligately.

Later that year, however, he left Budapest. His two younger brothers were already both living in France, one of them in Paris (what I wonder, was their ultimate fate?). András András Pető, went to Paris, where he again set up in a hotel, and 'fulfilled the role of a libertine, with gusto'. He is said to have tried to make a living through publishing rather than medicine. How long he remained in Paris and why he left are unknown Perhaps Maria Kloepfer's money had run out. For whatever reason, he went back to Budapest.

Róbert Szörényi reports that this final move was 'between the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and the and the start of World War II'. The War stated on different dates for different peoples. For the British, for example, it began on September 1939. For the Hungarians it was 27 June 1941. Take your pick.

András Pető was on his way to a new life.


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