Kőrösmező, Terminus

This postcard was sent on 16 June 1910 from the Kőrösmező railway station, which it also depicts, the former Hungarian-Galician border station at the pass of the Carpathians, to the Galician railway station of Sokoliki next to Lesko, from where the Lemberg-Ungvár train starts to climb up to the Hungarian-Galician border station of Uzsok at another pass in the Carpathians. It was addressed in German, the official language of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, as was right and proper – state office! – for a railway station. Thanks to this – from the gender of Wohlgeborenes – we know that the Polish addressee, Klimcia Hołowska was still Fräulein, and perhaps this is the reason why there is neither a sender nor a message on the postcard: the recipient obviously knew, and no one else needed to know, who had sent this sweet little sign. After that, Kőrösmező became Frasin, and then Jasiňa, and finally Ясиня, and it ceased to be a border station. Even its former name was forgotten: the pencil inscription by the modern Russian collector tries to identify the mountain village either with Кёрёш-Большой, Nagykőrös or with Кёрёш-Малый, Kiskőrös, both lying in the Great Hungarian Plain. Meanwhile, for a short time between 1939-44 it was Kőrösmező again, just until the stateless Hungarian Jews were handed over to the German authorities at precisely this station, and the son of Emanuel Rosenblüth, the publisher of the postcard in 1908, was taken to Mauthausen, just like the local small guide, Artúr Blutreich. In contrast, Sokoliki became a border station on the German-Soviet border drawn by the Ribbentropp-Molotov pact at the San river, and it has remained so to this day. Its 244 Jewish inhabitants were deported by the Germans, its 247 Polish inhabitants were killed or driven away by the Ukrainians, and its 926 Rusyn inhabitants were resettled by the Polish army to Silesia during the Vistula Action in 1946. Today it is a ghost village, only its church still stands, which is used as a vantage point by the border guards. This is how this postcard without a message summarizes the twentieth-century history of this multiethnic, beautiful and tragic region, which has been discussed so many times here at río Wang.

But this is not why we publish the photo of the station. It is an excuse to tell one more story from the Subcarpathian travelogue of Sándor Török. Having said goodbye to the little guide, Nyumi Blutreich, he goes to the Kőrösmező railway station, to travel further to Rahó. We are in the summer of 1939, several months after the Hungarian administration replaced the Czech one, but the Hungarian authorities have not yet been able to keep up with the changes. This inspires gloomy thoughts in the traveler. As history has proved, it is not without reason.

“A Polish train has just arrived at the station. It only came this far, and will go back soon. It has the table on its side: Stanislau – Voronienka. An old watchman is looking at it, and reading it: It has come from Veronica – he says.
The traveler goes into the traffic office, and showing his ticket, he professionally says: please, give me a date-stamp. The clerk looks around on his table, and then says to the others: – Where’s the stamp?
The question runs through three or four people: where is the stamp? – Who has the stamp? – Have you not seen the stamp? – Finally the stamp is found, the clerk takes it in hand, and presents it to the traveler, apologetically:
– We are not quite equipped yet – he explains –, in fact, this is not the proper stamp. This, you know, is a cash-stamp. Twenty years ago, at the change of state the cashier took it with her. And now, after twenty years she has brought it back, and so there you are, I have kept the stamp. And now we use it.

The railway clerk is a young man, around twenty-two or twenty-three. The stamp is obviously older than he, since just the time it spent out of service was twenty years. And where and how? At a former cashier, as a souvenir. It was more or less a knick-knack in her glass cupboard… Or more: a Legion of Honor, a symbol of loyalty to the office, of an oath upheld. Something like the gun or the flag salvaged at the capitulation at the end the war of independence in 1849. This might have been a central fact in the life of the cashier, and it must have been a great experience, when after twenty years she reported to the new stationmaster, and handed over the stamp: here you are. She certainly put on her Sunday clothes… – thinks the traveler, and the stamp is now promoted from a souvenir to an official object again.

How beautiful is this!… the traveler thinks, while sitting in the restaurant of Rahó’s Tourist Hotel in this evening. However – the traveler needs to say – he feels that the old stamp should have been used for one stamping only, in a solemn way, and then it should have been sent back to its master, the former cashier, who had kept it; yes, sent back to her with a beautiful letter from the President Director of the Hungarian Railways, such as: please keep this precious souvenir in the future, since we have as many new stamps as we need. – The traveler would have written this letter like that, or perhaps in a less formal tone. He would have been much happier if the story of the stamp had been only told to him, but his ticket had been stamped already with a brand new stamp of Kőrösmező.”

The railway station after 1920. The new state power of that time was also not really prepared: the Czech Ž and one of the Russian Я’s were written mirrored, and a н has been omitted from Станція.

A letter to a sweethart in Vienna. Military field post, 5 August 1915. The road to the eastern front went through this station just like in 1917 or 1941.

Not that stamp, but from the same time. From here