Soros György


Daily Mail 2000 augusztus 13-ai száma egy cikket írt Soros Györgyről. Gondoltam többeket érdekel, ezért kiraktam a webre. Bocsánat a rossz és néha helytelenül írt szavakra, de a számítógépem csak ennyire tud 'olvasni'. (akik értenek hozzá: beszkennelt cikkről van szó, amit OCR-ral konvertáltam TXT-vé) Idő hiánya miatt jobban nem javítottam ki kézzel, de azért remélem így is érthető.

A book by George Soros's father has lain forgotten for decades. Soon to be republished, it tells the remarkable tale of how Tivadar Soros rescued his son from the Nazis and raised him to become one of the most powerful men in the world.

Report by Alicel Fowler

In the spring of 1944, after the Germans had invaded  Hungary, George Soros spent a day delivering invitations to Jewish homes in Budapest. That night, he  showed one to his father, Tivadar. 'We invite you to  present yourself tomorrow morning at 9am at the  premises of the Rabbinical Seminary in Rokk Szilard  Street,' it read. 'Please bring a blanket and food for two  days.' Across the city, other young Jewish boys were  distributing similar letters, sent on the instructions of  the Nazis.'Do you know what this invitation means P  Tivadar asked his son.   'Yes,' said the boy seriously.' At a guess, I'd say they  will be interned.' Tivadar was shaken. How much more  did 14-year-old George understand? Did he realise that  people who accepted the invitation would be deported  and almost certainly killed? Did he know they were Jewish lawyers, like his father! For a moment, Tivadar felt  shame for the deeds of his century. Then, shaken by the  insight of his blond son, he decided it was time to act.  For the next 10 months, until the Nazis were driven  out of Hungary by Russians, the Soros familyTivadar, his wife Elizabeth and their sons George and  Paul - used forged documents to disguise themselves as  Christians. They lived apart, rarely meeting and never acknowledging that they were related.   The risks were huge: half a million Hungarian ,  Jews were sent to extermination camps.  Only 200,000 or so, herded in the Budapest  ghetto, were spared liquidation. Of those, more  than half were dead by the end of the war.   That all four of his family survived is a  remarkable tribute to the resourcefulness and  courage of Tivadar Soros. It has also, in some  measure, played a part in all our histories. For  George, the boy with an understanding beyond  his years, would go on to become perhaps the  most powerful private investor the world has  ever known; the man who, nearly 50 years later,  in 1992, would lead a %6 billion attack on  sterling which would send the pound crashing  out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. The manoeuvre made Soros more than  Font 600 million, which equated to a loss of ~12 for  every person in Britain. Many believe it also cost  the Tories the next election.   Looking back, it is hard to overestimate the  impact of the Holocaust on the young George  Soros. In the dark months of 1944, he learnt to  hold his nerve when his life depended on it.  Significantly, he even came to enjoy his knifeedge existence. Later, he described the year he  spent in hiding as the happiest of his life. g had a  father whom I adored, who was in command of  the situation, who knew what to do and helped  others,' he recalled. 'We were in mortal danger,  but I was convinced that I was exempt. For a  14-year-old, it was the most exciting adventure  that one could possibly ask for.' Tivadar, dilettante in his job as a lawyer, worked tirelessly to  help his family and other Jews survive. It was,  says his son, his finest hour'.   Many years later, in the early Sixties,  Tivadar published an account of his experiences. An idealistic man, he had long been a  supporter of Esperanto, the language invented  at the end of the 19th Century to unite people  across languages and cultures; as a young man  in Hungary, he had edited an Esperanto journal,  Literatura Mondo. When the time came to write  his wartime memoir, Maskerado: Dancing  around Death in Nazi Hungary, he chose to  write it in Esperanto.   The book was published in 1965, by which time  Tivadar was living in New York. Just three years later, he  was dead. For the next 30 years, his book remained  almost unknown; even in Esperanto circles, few made  the connection between Tivadar Soros and his famous  son. This autumn, all that will change when Majkerado  is finally published in English.   Before then, however, it is possible to tell, for the first  time, the extraordinary story of the Soros' survival. It is  a story of bravery during one of history's bleakest hours.  More than that, it provides a unique insight into the  mysterious personality of George Soros himself: a man  who arrived penniless in Britain and went on to break the  Bank of England; a billionaire two or three times over  who is also one of the world's greatest philanthropists.   On March 19, 1944, when the Nazis occupied Hungary, the Soroses were at their summer home at Lupa  Island, an hour north of Budapest. They were too far  away to hear German tanks clanking through the capi-  tal's empty streets, but word spread quickly. For George,  known to his family as Gyuri or Gyurka, and his brother  Paul (Pall), it was the first hint of menace in their lives.   The Soroses were a prosperous middle-class family.  In summer, Tivadar would take the morning ferry frbm  Lupa Island to his office in Budapest, shaving as he went;  in fine weather he might even scull to work. He was a  charismatic, free-thinking, unconventional man, idolised  by his younger son. His courage was already prt of family folklore, every detail  greedily by the young Gyuri. A lieutenat during the First  World War, Tivald had been captured on the Russian front  and had escaped from Siberia by raft When he returned to  Hungary he was a changed man. He married Elizabeth,  a sensitive, emotional woman, and had two sons, but his old  ambition was lost. He became a lawyer, but not one who worked more than was necessary? Remember, as a little  child, he would send me to his main client to borrow some  money and then we would go on a skiing holiday,' George has  recalled. 'When we returned, he would be in a very bad  mood for weeks while he was trying to make some  money to repay the debt.' Unusually for a man in his profession, Tivadar lived on his capital and for the moment.   Crucially, when the Nazis invaded and persecution of  the Hungarian Jews began, Tivadar was ready to act for  himself. His book describes how some Jews complied  with the invitations' even though they guessed the consequences; Tivadar felt no such compunction. 'Morally  and legally I felt entitled not to obey unjustified, threatening state decrees,' he writes in Maskerado. I wanted  to take the fate of my family into my own hands.' For the  Soroses, there were no half measures: to survive they had  to 'disappear'.   It, his book, Tivadar describes how he hunted for  documents 4ike a maniac', trying to persuade Christian  acquaintances to sell their papers, or to obtain  forgeries. Word spread that he could help people  procure documents; inevitably, he took risks.  One day in the park, he started talking to a  woman with two children. She was about 40 and  spoke German with a good accent.   She told him she had lived in Berlin and had  married a Hungarian, and was now a widow.  Often, they would chat. 'One time I must have  seemed depressed,' writes Tivadar. The woman  asked: "What's wrong" "Well, I've good  reasons for being down," I replied. "Between  you and me, I am Jewish, and that's a good  reason in itself." He went on to tell her about a  young Jewish girl for whom he was struggling to  get Christian papers.   The woman seemed moved by his words. She  said she also had a confession to make. She too  was Jewish, a refugee from Germany. Next day  they met again and he showed her some forged  registration forms he had just bought. 'Nicht  anruhren. [Don't touch these] she exclaimed.  'Very crude forgery. The circle round the stamp  is done with a pair of compasses.'   She held the small forms up to the light and  Tivadar could see for himself where the point of  the compasses had pierced the paper. He felt  humiliated, and furious with the man who had  endangered lives by supplying such makeshift  forgeries. Still, his gamble had paid off"I could  have put myself in great danger by revealing  I was Jewish to a stranger. But you have to take  risks to get results.' It was a lesson for life that  the young George was learning well.

Tivadar was still working hard to obtain  documents for his wife and sons. A Budapest  caretaker gave him a set of papers which corresponded to his own family in age; through his  brother he obtained the complete papers of an  army man the same age as himself. 'Thus  I became Elek Szabo,' he writes, adding tongue  in cheek:' I decided to grow a moustache.'   At Tivadar's insistence, the family split up.  Tivadar stayed in Budapest, hidden in a small, windowless furniture store, on the ground floor of an apartment  block, sneaking out to eat or swim. Pall became a  Christian boy named Jozsef Balazs while Elizabeth  became Julia Besenyi, the 40-year-old daughter of a  noble Hungarian family, who had worked as a typist in  Berlin, fallen ill and returned to Hungary to convalesce.   George's new identity was the most daring. He was  helped by his barber, a Christian, who promised to find a  guardian amongst his clients. A fat, pinkish, puffy  cheeked man named Baufluss was asked to look after  him. Baufluss was a clerk in the Ministry of Agriculture,  whose job was to make an inventory of confiscated  Jewish estates. George, who was now known as 'Sander  Kiss', became his godson and, by a potent irony, accom-  panied Baufluss as he listed the assets of Jewish farms.  

Throughout Maskerado, one senses a man operating  at the peak of his powers. With unmistakable pride he  describes how, when he obtained documents for wealthy acquaintances, he had no qualms about charging exorbitantprices.   He developed three prices for documents: l. People who were dear to me or in desperate  circumstances got their papers free of charge;  2. People whom I didn't feel I could rightly make a profit  out of paid just my actual costs, regardless of work or risk;  and  3. My rich clients paid a high price. I set no limits to  the price for them or, as they say, I had no ceiling.'   It's not hard to imagine how the young George would  have absorbed an important lesson: how to work outside  the system and, when necessary, to impose one's own  laws. Like some Robin Hood of the ghetto, Tivadar was  needing the rich to help the poor and, even as he took ,  great risks, he explained to his sons how he justified  his actions.' put it like this,' he writes. 'We have to help,  if the outcome is greater than the money or effort we put  in. We should never begrudge a favour if the receiver  gains more than we lose.'   At the same time, he showed unshakeable self-belief.  In his book (albeit written some years after the war)  Tivadar displays little sign of depression or fear. Instead,  he seems full of mischief - and his children shared his  innate self-confidence. 'When a father you respect takes  you seriously, you have got to take yourself seriously,'  George Soros later remarked.   Soros has even described how, until he was 14, he  thought he was 'some kind of god or creator of everything, some sort of absolute intellect'. The Holocaust  may have changed all that, yet his self-belief remained.  As the months of German occupation dragged on,  the pressures on the family intensified. In the country,  Elizabeth was interrogated by the police and, under  great stress, successfully convinced them she was 7ulia'.  For a while George went to live with her, before moving  to a Catholic family called the Haszkas. Despite the  tension, he and his father still spent a day scouring  chemists' shops in search of food for the Haszkas' baby.   In October, Hungary announced an armistice with  the Russians, but pro-Nazis formed a new government  and Jews were harried even more. Although the regime  was unpopular, linking Hungary's fate more closely to  the Germans, few people dared speak against it. In  Budapest, the dangers increased: there were Russian air  raids, the electricity supply failed and a bridge, mined by  the Germans for their retreat, blew up early, killing  scores of people. Tivadar decided it was time for Paul  and George to live with him, as his 'godsons'.   So began a strange, oddly intimate interlude in the  boys' lives. They had never been truly close, but now they  were aung together. To pass the time, they made up  quizzes based on two maps; one of Hungary, one of  Europe. Most of the time, Tivadar won.   One morning, he writes, his elder son spoke up. "I'm  not just speaking for myself but also on behalf of Gyuri.  Godfather, your approach to this game is not all it  should be. Ever since we started playing, you keep on  winning. Now that's not so bad in itself, but when you  win the biscuits you eat them too." I was taken aback.  "As far as I know, there's no rule against eating your  prize, and you know I like sweet stuff." 'LThat's  there's no rule against it, but it isn't fair, because i  reduces our chances of winning them back," said Pali  Gyuri put his oar in too. "You realise, for us, it's more an  ethical question than a material one." Faced with the  united front, Tivadar agreed to play chess instead.   Another game was to bet when the electricity would  go off each day, but rarely could the Soros sons outwit  their father. George was learning the art of gambling  from a master. Such distractions were needed, for by now  the city was under siege. Russian planes riddled  streets with bullets; one passed the house with a mighty'  roar and, when the Soroses looked out, two people lay  dead on the pavement.   Machine guns were moving closer and panes of glass  began to shatter. One day, as George was at the window  making repairs, his father cried out in alarm. 'Gyuri, get  away from the window. George seemed not to hear.  eexi, why won't you let me finish' he asked.   I could have explained it very simply by saying  "Because I was afraid for you",' writes his father, with  rare poignancy. 'But some kind of reticence stopped me  saying that. Instead, I lust firmly said, "No explanations,  I'm just telling you to stop doing id" His son, he records,  discontentedly left the window, as if to say: Even Dad  and I don't understand each other now.' There was little time for reflection, for around them the situation was  changing fast. The Germans were losing  ground and at last, on January 12 1945, the Russians  freed Hungary from the Nazis.   It was the moment they had longed for, but the  Soroses felt little more than simple relief. They had  survived the terrors of the Holocaust and could live as  a family again; but their old, tranquil existence did not  return. The Russian occupation brought new dangers.  Fifty years of Communist rule in Hungary was just  beginning and, as Tivadar notes, Life as regulated by the  Russians and the ideology of class warfare meant new  masquerades and new machinations.'   In 1947, aged 17, George left Hungary and travelled  via Switzerland to London, where he worked in kitchens  and studied at the LSE. He got a job at a merchant bank  in London but soon moved to New York, where his  knowledge of Europian markets set him apart. Soros the  speculator was born.   In the same year, 1956 - the year of the popular uprising in Hungary - his parents joined him in America,  where they lived for the rest of their lives. As George's  career took off, Paul also started a highly successful  engineering company. But for their parents, adapting to a  new life was harder. According to George's biographer  Robert Slater, author of Soros: The Life, Times and  Trading Secrets of the World's Greatest Investor,  Tivadar opened an espresso stand on Coney Island, but  the business failed and he retired. He developed cancer,  and died at the age of 75 in 1968.   Afterwards, George spoke movingly about his  father's illness:' know from my experience that when  my father died, I denied it,' he said.' refused to face the  fact that he was dying. I think it was a tragic mistake on  my part.' For all their mutual respect, father his son; had  never been able to talk about their emotions. Just as,  years before, Tivadar could not tell his son to draw back  from the gunfire because he loved him, so he and George  could not acknowledge that he was dying.   When his mother died, some 23 years later in 1989,  George made sure the circumstances were very different.  He was with her, holding her hand, as she described see-  ing the gates of Heaven and slowly lost consciousness.   After her death he started the 'Project on Death' in  America, to help families cope with bereavement. It is  one of many philanthropic activities with which Soros  has become associated. Most famously, he has spent  hundreds of millions of dollars to support democracy in  Eastern Europe; in the waning years of the Cold War he  even bought photocopiers for his native Hungary so the  Communists could not monopolise information. More  recently, he has spent $50 million trying to save Sarajevo  from the Serbs, as well as millions funding Open Society  foundations - which promote education, freedom of  speech and human rights - around the world. In the US,  he has sought to open the debate on drugs policy.   In recent months the Soros legend has been tarnished  just a little. Earlier this year, his funds failed to predict  the fall in technology stocks and their value fell by a third  - some $5 billion. Soros announced his firm would pursue a less risky investment strategy: the days of the  'macro bet' were over. Even the Man Who Broke the  Bank of England can, it seems, make mistakes.   Yet, in his 71st year, George Soros has good reason to  feel content. He is happily married to his wife Susan, 25  years his junior, with whom he has two sons, aged 12 and  14. He also has three grown-up children - Robert,  Andrea and John - from his first marriage.   As his biographer Robert Slater points out, his whole  career can be traced back to the events of 1944 and 1945.  The Second World War taught George that there were  really no boundaries to what he could do,' he says.'He  had gone through hell and it taught him to be a risk  taker, to try almost anything. He also reacted very negatively to oppression. Once he got away from authoritarlan governments, he thrived-in a free environment.'   In supporting publication of his father's book - bo  he and Paul have contributed forewords - George Soros  is showing a new and very public pride in his past.  Perhaps he too believes the lessons he learnt then have  made him the man he is today. As he himself has said:  I learnt the art of survival from a grand master.'

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Szerkeszti/fotók: Tohai Zsolt