A shocking glimpse into the mind of a victim of psychological and physical torture at the hands of the Hungarian secret police under Stalinism.
Töttösy's first memoir, translated by Szablya, delves into his psyche under the extreme stress of torture, as well as his mental destabilization as a result of hallucinogenic drugs he ingested under duress in 1952 and ’53. During Stalin’s reign, the Hungarian secret police, the AVH, were utterly ruthless in extracting confessions from their political prisoners. Töttösy was a victim of their so-called truth serums, which, coupled with tactics such as repeatedly beating him with clubs, caused him to manifest symptoms of schizophrenia. A voice began speaking in his head, commanding him to tell the truth. Each time he spoke, he was beaten, often so brutally he welcomed the passage to unconsciousness as a brief respite from torture. Mysteriously, he managed to survive; despite the voice in his head forcing him to confess to a conspiracy, it seemed to repeatedly save his life by warning him against the dangers of his actions. Töttösy's resilience will stagger even the most stoic reader. As the memoir progresses and his insanity clashes with the absurdity of the punishments enacted by the secret police, his frenzied mind almost becomes a force of good against the evil madness of their actions. The fact that his memory remained so sharp in the grip of mental illness and abuse is miraculous. Szablya’s fluid translation carries the weight of historical importance, providing deep insights into the hidden brutality of the AVH. More information and research about the Hungarian regime may have strengthened the work’s readability to those unfamiliar with the surrounding history, but this unflinching portrayal of inhumanity will capture anyone’s attention.
A courageous account of torture and insanity that beams with hope of a soul’s survival.