National Geographic : 1957 Mar
parents about to tramp the last anxious mile gave sleeping pills to babies lest their cries betray the entire family. Soviet and Hungarian border guards pa trolled two miles to the rear. Sometimes they shot to kill. But if a man was lucky, the fugitives told me, the guards looked the other way, or merely grabbed his watch. Taking advantage of utmost darkness, most border crossers arrived here between midnight and 5 a.m. Not wanting to startle these already fright ened people with flash bulbs, I hid in the bushes and waited for the first streak of dawn. A thin shawl protected this lone arrival against the wintry winds. Trudging across 42. the foggy field, she carried her worldly pos sessions in a bundle. All her furniture, spare clothes, and family mementos lay abandoned in Hungary. One night I waited near this spot with some Austrian friends, expecting a party of ref ugees. A light blinked about a quarter of a mile inside Hungary. We answered. Then two rifle shots rang out. We waited another three hours, but no one came. Were these wretched people scared off or arrested? We never learned. Pictures on the following pages trace escap ing Hungarians through this farmhouse to reception camps, trains, and planes, until they finally reach the United States.