All Souls' Day

Pokrovskaya Church, Budyonny village (called so between 1919 and 1958 after Marshall Semyon Mikhailovich Budyonny, before 1919 and since 2007 Biryuch), Streletskoe district, under Voronezh, next to the front of Don. From the war photos of Tamás Konok Sen., Fortepan

In the hitherto unknown diary of Ensign Elemér Tóth, written from the Hungarian Jászberény to the Russian Budyonny between 21 October and 4 December 1942 – which we have recently found among auction material, and about which we would like to write more – we read on Monday, 2 November:

“The whole afternoon was free. To use this little free time, we went out to the city to take photos. We photographed the Orthodox church, which was converted into a joiner-shop by the Soviets. Once it must have been a beautiful building, now it is in ruins. Our road leads next to two soldiers’ graves, with steel helmet on the cross. I go and look closely, and I read the following inscriptions on them: Here lies Corporal László Kőszegi, born on 5 August 1912, died for the homeland on 8 October 1942; and: Here lies Private Péter Nyolgas (sic!), born on 27 May 1921, died on 27 September 1942. We stop at the grave, we say an Our Father, and we go on. It is only four past half, but it is already getting dark, we hurry home.”

The concise, but sensitive description is unexpectedly paired with a photo, taken in the same place by war correspondent Tamás Konok Sen., about whom we have already written in detail. And, together with the laconic death records, the mosaic tiles of a whole story unfold. László Kőszegi, in civilian life, a butter-maker, resides at Nagymező Street 62, Budapest, just a few blocks and seven decades away from where I first consulted this diary. Péter Nyolcas from Jászladány, occupation unknown. Both of them lie in “Budenyj, next to the church”.

Tamás Konok’s photo of the grave mentioned in the diary

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Corporal László Kőszegi, Pázmánd (Fejér county), 5 August 1912 – Budyonny, 8 August 1942. Cause of death: “during the performance of his duty he fell in the water and drowned.” His file in the military graves registrar.

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Technical assistant Péter Nyolcas, Jászladány (Szolnok county), 27 May 1921 – Budyonny, 26 September 1942, buried on 29 in “Budenyj, next to the church”. Cause of death: “car accident, basal skull fracture, pneumonia”. His file in the military graves registrar.

Photo by Tamás Konok

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