When author Kati Marton started digging into the files that the Hungarian secret police kept on her parents, who worked as journalists in Cold War Budapest, she discovered the extent to which the people around them in the 1940s and ’50s kept tabs on her family’s everyday life.
Their grocer, dentist, even their babysitter were working with the secret police. In “Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America,” Marton describes what happened when her father – and later her mother – were arrested and eventually released, and how desperate her father had become while imprisoned:
“My father when he was already in prison wrote on cigarette paper, a letter that he tried to smuggle out to my mother, pleading with her to divorce him, to marry someone at the American Embassy, a security guard, anybody, just to get a ticket out of Hungary. And to make sure that his children, myself and my older sister, forget him, because he will never get out,” she said in an interview with Margaret Warner.
The NewsHour plans to air the full conversation tonight, and you can watch an additional online-only excerpt here: