Reformatus.hu interviewed Mária Benedek-Micsinay, a woman born in Hungary and raised in Argentina.
The site interviewed Argentina-born Mária Benedek-Micsinay. She is the general administrator of the Hungarian Reformed Church in Argentina and the founder of the Language Polishing Course (Nyelvcsiszoló Tanfolyam). She has taught all eight of her grandchildren her mother tongue, Hungarian.
She left Hungary with her family in April 1945, and they went to Germany. They lived on a barge near Passau. Her father was taken to a collection camp to be handed over to the Russians, but he managed to escape. The family then fled to Austria. They were eventually resettled in Argentina with the help of the IRO (International Refugee Organisation), and their ship docked in Buenos Aires on 28 February 1949.
Maria said that people in Argentina were nice, her family never felt discriminated against, and they learned Spanish very quickly. They always spoke Hungarian at home, and her mother taught her and her sister Hungarian grammar, geography, history, and literature. Mária still feels Hungarian today, as she was born in Hungary, her parents raised her in a Hungarian atmosphere, and she has lived almost her entire life in a Hungarian environment.
Her paternal grandfather’s family was of Transylvanian origin, from Kisbacon, and the other side of the family was related to Elek Benedek, the famous Hungarian writer.
In the family’s living room, the pillowcases have Hungarian patterns on them, and the walls are decorated with Hungarian landscapes: Budapest, Hollókő, and several Alföld (Great Hungarian Plain) villages.
Being a scout also plays a very important role in Mária’s life. She was initiated as a scout at a scout camp her father organised in 1959. A year later, in 1960, she married a young scout officer, László Benedek. They had two children, László and Zsuzsi. Unfortunately, László died young.
Mária and László have eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Mária has led Scout Leader training camps in Argentina and Brazil, and Scout Auxiliary Officer training camps in the United States.
“I went to Hungary with my husband for the first time, it was a traumatic experience for both of us. My maternal grandmother, my father and my mother’s brothers and sisters, whom I only knew through letters, were still alive,”
“And my husband had an aunt and uncle, first cousins, with whom he played until 1945. Suddenly, everything was there in front of me in reality, not on a postcard or in a book:
The Parliament, the Buda Castle, Matthias Church, the National Museum, Győr, Székesfehérvár, Esztergom, Lébény, Ják, Zsámbék, Pannonhalma, Lake Balaton, the Danube, the meandering Tisza…
And all the signs were Hungarian, and everyone spoke only Hungarian. It was like a dream.”
According to Mária, the Hungarians in Argentina celebrate Easter in a traditional way: by painting eggs, sprinkling girls, and saying Hungarian Easter poems. She says that when she was little, a refugee in Germany, she was very much looking forward to what the Easter bunny would bring. The most exciting part was when they got a real, live bunny for the holiday.