How Puskás and his teammates smuggled refrigerators into the country during the dictatorship
As 444.hu reports, Hungarian football players brought so many big sized technical products from the tours abroad in the fifties that sometimes secret service contribution was needed for the seamless import of 22 refrigerators – turns out from a recently published report of an agent.
Besugnak.blog announces the reports of an inducted sports manager of Honvéd, who joined Puskás‘s team on the bus leaving for the Leipzig Zentralstadion’s inauguration game in the August of 1956. (It was typical of the age that at least five of the passengers were secret informers.)
The most interesting part is what the star football players got for this:
Concerning the financial background of the tour it is worth mentioning that Honvédség has made a special deal with its players: since football players officially did not go on holiday, and therefore did not receive the so-called holiday money, they received cash prizes after the matches and they could take their goods purchased abroad freely to Hungary.
According to the agent reporting under the pseudonym Sándor Kajlik: “In Leipzig, after winning the game the players received a premium in German mark due to the intercession of comrade Gyula Hegyi. Most of them spent this money on buying radios, and comrade Hegyi made arrangements so that they received gift papers for the purchased goods… Czech comrades also gave gift papers for the purchased goods.”
The author of the blog post explains that
This economic loophole, which actually meant a sort of smuggling, evaded the duty imposed on certain goods. The crossing of the border and the duty free import was still a little problematic.
But what could be wrong with such a system? Well, only that the customs officials nodded for the GDR (German Democratic Republic) gift papers, but for unknown reasons they did not approve the similar Czechoslovak documents and 22 refrigerators were not passed through the border.
The agent, of course, also noted the objects which were allowed for import:
“Generally each player bought a radio, a refrigerator (or an electric boiler), some of them brought washing machines. As I counted, about 2500 crown worth products per person were taken by the players and leaders to the country. Women bought themselves different products such as lingerie, nylon things etc.”
Ironically, two weeks later agent Kajlik was commissioned to get the refrigerators back. He went to Prague, negotiated with the local internal affairs of ÁVH (State Security Department), then
“They sorted everything out in three hours’ time. Then I went to the Hungarian embassy, where I made a phone call to Budapest, telling them that everything was taken care of, I would be travelling home on Friday, wait for us in Komárom with a wagon. After checking the ministerial permit, the Czech customs office let the refrigerators pass through the border without further ado.”
Then, by the time they could have cooled anything down, the Revolution broke out and a great deal of Honvéd stars emigrated, leaving the refrigerators behind.