Anna Heinrich, 13. 10. 1987, Kazincbarcika, Hungary
Questions to the narrator
- 00:12What happened on the 24 December 1981, and in the next 24 hours?
- 01:21Why did they put her in a psychiatric hospital?
- 01:50What happened at the court cases?
- 02:47Why did she actually conduct a hunger strike? What was the reason?
- 04:10How difficult is it to live on the pension that she receives?
- 04:47How difficult is it for other people to live on such pension?
- 05:11Why did she feel she had to protest? Why did she protest with a hunger strike?
- 05:53How did she feel that she was put in a mental hospital because she protested?
- 06:43Did she continue to have trouble with the police after this, or did they leave her alone?
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What happened on the 24 December 1981, and in the next 24 hours?
I started a hunger strike. At about half past eight in the evening I put a poster in the terrace window and another one on the front door with the same text, not a poster but only a smaller piece of paper, on which I wrote that I will start a hunger strike in protest against social injustice. The police arrived at around eleven o'clock, on the next day, on 25, they came at about eleven in the morning and called upon me to take down the poster. I did not take it down, at about one o'clock they burst the door open, and by then there were already very many people here, the fire brigade, many of them, and then I drank this tobacco juice thought to be nicotine, due to which I was taken first to the Barcika then the Miskolc Hospital’s toxicology department. After two and half days I was taken to the psychiatry department, the psychiatric ward, where I spent eight days.
Why did they put her in a psychiatric hospital? Can you ask her?
Well, they thought if someone starts such a hunger strike qualified as subversion in the Christmas of 1981, that cannot be sane. The doctor, more precisely the doctors had a different opinion.
What happened at the court cases?
At the first hearing, the public prosecutor asked for the maximum penalty that can be given for this, which was three-year sentence served in prison. My lawyer, a public defender, did everything except for defending me. I did not know him, I did not even discuss with him previously. I was sentenced to eight months, imprisonment of eight months, suspended for three years. The second trial was on 23 December 1982, an appeal hearing, after the notice of appeal, where this whole thing was changed into a fine of 4,500 forints, suspended for one year.
Why did she actually conduct a hunger strike? What was the reason?
In 1981, 25 years after of the events of the Revolution of 1956, my husband received for his loyalty, for the defence of the Miskolc University of Heavy Industry, and for the defence of the Borsod Printing House the Workers' and Peasants' Rule Medal. I reproached to Comrade Kádár in a not too respectful manner that he forgot about those who risked their lives for him back then. After that they came to me from the local party committee, they sent a lady from there, a secretary, and wanted to help me, because I also wrote in this letter that people with low income and pension are in a very difficult situation. So, I did not demand any exceptional rights for those, who had received the Workers' and Peasants' Rule Medal, I just mentioned this on the occasion that it turned 25 years. They came to help me, and this outraged me. So, this is why I started a hunger strike, because I did not want help for myself, but for everybody who lived among difficult circumstances.
How difficult is it to live on the pension that she receives?
Simply, there is not… one cannot live on this. How could one make a living from 3,498 forints? My godson gives me 2,000 for a month for board. His board costs about that much for one week, but I cannot ask for more, because he pays child support, too. So, one cannot live on this. I made needlework until now, but that got cancelled, because my customer shut down the business.
How difficult is it for other people to live on such pension?
Equally difficult, it is equally difficult. Some people can barely collect the price of a half a litter of milk from ten fillér coins in the last days before they receive their pension, or cannot afford it at all.
Why did she feel she had to protest? Why did she protest with a hunger strike?
Well, I live alone, more precisely I lived alone until last year. I have no children. I thought that if this will have any consequences, I would not be such a great loss. And I felt that I have enough courage to do this. Somebody has to give voice to this, and if I feel that I am that person to speak out, then I have to do it.
How did she feel that she was put in a mental hospital because she protested?
Well, for a while people looked at me in a rather strange way, but after two or three conversations, meetings they were convinced that I was sane. And, well, ever since that my relation with the neighbours is very good, although the whole event was very unpleasant for them. The gas was turned off, someone was baking a pie in the oven when the gas was turned off in the house, because they wanted persuade the neighbours that I was about to blow up the house. I throw the spider out the window. The neighbours did not believe them, so they could not make them fall for this. My neighbours still were not angry with me, they even sympathized with me, because they knew I was right.
Did she continue to have trouble with the police after this, or did they leave her alone?
Before the trial, so after they sent me home, or rather when I was told in the hospital that they would release me on the 5 January, after around fifteen minutes came the Head of the Psychiatry Department, Dr. Márta Wildmann, utterly shocked and told me, that the political police wants to see me. They were more scared than me. A very handsome young man, Mr. Oláh was sent from the political police, he was rather benignant. In addition to this, I was summoned to the political police two more times in January. On one occasion, I think they took me for some laboratory animal, because a police officer came in and scrutinized me so thoroughly that it was obvious that he was called in to have a look at me, at the kind of person they don't see every day.
Anna Heinrich (?)
Mrs. Anna Heinrich, a widow from Kazincbarcika, started a hunger strike on Christmas Eve of 1981 to protest against social injustices, the debauchery of the rich, and the destitution of the poor. She hung a poster in her window demanding pay rise. The next day, on 25 December, the police broke in on her, took her to the mental ward of a hospital, and two weeks later the final medical report found a paranoid and psychopathic personality disorder, and still, it did not cast doubt on the woman’s culpability.
The case of the 58-year-old woman was taken to court and on 12 October 1982, the Miskolc District Court’s judgement no. 3. B. 699 / 1982-5, Mrs. András Heinrich, resident of Kazincbarcika, was sentenced to eight months imprisonment – with three years of suspended probation – for the criminal act of ‘community violation committed in public’. According to the indictment, and even to the public prosecutor, she committed ‘an act suitable for inciting hatred against the constitutional order of the Hungarian People’s Republic’. The court took into account as attenuating circumstances that the defendant had never acted against the law, she was helpful, loved by her neighbors, and – as per the medical opinion – was only able to recognize the social danger of her act to a limited extent. On 23 December 1982, the appellate court commuted the sentence to a fine of 4,500 forints.