The road to Bucharest ... Through Pitesti
After captured by guards, armed guides walked dad and Artur through the mountains of Transylvania for several days. They were finally taken to a castle and questioned more on their purpose. There was difficulty due to the language barrier and unfamiliarity with the Hungary-Romanian conflict. They finally signed a document and were taken to a cell filled with Hungarian soldiers,
From a nearby town, about 150 prisoners were transported by cattle cars to a prison camp in Pitesti. Their train must have taken at least 12 hours, cause my train from Cluj to Bucharest took that long, I learned there was no food or beverages on the train, so this man welcomed me into his compartment with a gesture of a refreshment. We proceeded to share 2.5 liters of Romanian beer over the next few sticky hours. It was translated to me that he doesn't like to drink alone. He also insisted I take a cabbage roll.
My dad estimated 50 prisoners in each of the 3 cattle cars. No windows with little ventilation along the top of each car. Dad and Artur were among just a handful of civilians. The rest Hungarian soldiers, a few German soldiers, and two unfortunate Serb university students who were drafted into the Hungarian army. Conversely, I was accompanied by quite friendly Romanian travelers who made the 12 hours fly by. I could NOT get Stephan to smile... Apparently he only smiles for the camera when holding a beer.
When their train finally reached Pitesti, all prisoners were marched to a military base in the city where 3 crudely built barracks were constructed to house the prisoners. My dad describes them as 'just like Hogans Heroes.' While walking through the town, dad and Artur spoke excessively loud in Polish, explaining their quest, hoping to capture the attention of Polish expatriates. Fortunately, they would soon learn that a Polush community existed in the town.
Author - Andrew Bajda
I've been working on writing the story of my father for two years, his adventures during WW2. I will retrace his steps and use this blog to share stories and images of the places that make up his fascinating story.