Fogarassy is a child of the heroic 1956 Hungarian revolution against Soviet domination. The uprising was urged by the US Voice of America, but the Suez crisis intervened and help from the US never arrived.
Early memories of that time include the day she went to school with her big brother Steve, stopping on the way at the breadlines with their guardian Katica. At the school they were turned away and they trudged back home past the town square where Soviet tanks were gathering.
Liberation from the Soviets took another 30 years. By then, the family was long in the US. Fogarassy herself was a New York American writer who carried those early formative Hungarian years into her life and work.
The 1956 revolution was a turning point for the family. The father Janos was a former landowner, X-listed and prohibited from working in the system of social rotation imposed by the Communist regime. Proletarian mother Ilona joined the Party to support the small family of four. Both parents were implicated in the Revolution. The only option was to flee before the purge spread to their small town on the edge with Romania…
Plot 301 in the New Public Cemetery of Budapest is dedicated to the “martyrs” of the Revolution who were executed in 1958 for taking part in the revolt against the Soviets. The victims of those executions were exhumed and “rehabilitated” posthumously in 1989 when the Iron Curtain fell as the Berlin Wall tumbled. Two years later the Soviet Union collapsed.
The formative years of a child’s life leave a lifelong imprint. Fogarassy has remained aware that money, status, value and respect are circumstantial.
Money in post war impoverished Hungary meant little when no goods were to be found. The wealth of Austria after escape from Hungary was offset by a refugee status however kindly the receiving citizens. The American bounty of opportunity made demands that could leave a soul hungry for the deeper values of older cultures.
Fogarassy’s life experience feeds directly into her work. Early life in Hungary, transition through Austria, early life in the American Midwest, then adulthood in New York and through the United Nations has left an imprint. She observes, pays attention, adapts and draws conclusions about fairness with an eye toward the long-range perspective.
In that view, the dynamic young America is best poised to lead the world, particularly in the area of integrating global cultures. For that role, America is now at the crossroad of admitting it has much to learn from its elder cultures.