Károly Patrovits and his heroic deeds during the Second World War – an appeal from Hungary

2012 április 18 10:20 de.5 hozzászólás

Two of our readers, Fruzsina Magyar and Tamás Patrovits, sent the Canadian Hungarian Journal the letter published below, in which they seek our help in unearthing more information on the life of Károly Patrovits, a Hungarian journalist credited with saving the lives of hundreds of Hungarian Jews during the Second World War.

If you know anything about Károly Patrovits, who saved the lives of many Jewish forced laborers, an act for which he paid with his own life, please let us know.

We read an article by László Feleki in the May 25, 1975 issue of the newspaper Népsport. It was entitled PATRÓ (The Story of a Righteous Man):

… it happened in late fall of 1944 in front of the Great Market Hall on Dimitrov Square [in Budapest]. Hungarian reserve first lieutenant Károly Patrovits was commander of a Jewish forced labor company. He received orders to march his company to Germany. He had no doubt about what this order entailed and the fate that awaited the 220 men under his command. He decided not to follow orders, regardless of what may happen. After marching for several days, he stopped his company in front of the market hall and said more or less as follows:

‘Men! I have received orders to march to Germany. Since the journey is long, you may all go home now… I repeat: YOU MAY ALL GO HOME NOW to prepare for the journey. After all, we’re not going JUST ANYWHERE. Understood? We start six o’clock tomorrow morning. I’m warning everyone, don’t be late, because WE’RE NOT WAITING FOR ANYONE!

He’d already worked on his staff. It wasn’t difficult, because he’d already imbued them with his own views during the previous months. They were happy to be out of the war and were hoping that they’d only have to lie low for another couple of difficult weeks or months…. Almost all the men understood the meaning of the commander’s surprising announcement, which was given a tragic-comic coloring by next morning’s episode. The next morning, Patrovits and some of his staff appeared in front of the market hall and he was surprised to see that 7 (seven!) forced laborers had followed his orders and had appeared precisely on time. They were fully equipped; after all you can’t head for the Third Reich just any old way. Seven out of 220. Patrovits took a deep breath, then all he said was, “Get lost, boys.”

The penny dropped. The men ran to their beloved commander, hugged him, then scattered. What happened to them? We don’t know what happened to most of the men in the Patrovits company. Were they able to take advantage of the freedom that fell in their laps? How many were able to survive the grueling months until the liberation? And how many can still remember the man who paid for his heroism with his life?”

Károly Patrovits was the father of the well known actor György Pálos.

György Pálos’s original name was György Patrovits.

Please contact us at the following address  with any information or personal experiences:

Fruzsina Magyar: [email protected]

Tamás Patrovits: [email protected]

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