Klara Hartmann : Interrogation and torture



“I was in prison, locked up with Russians. So I couldn’t really talk either. Basically, I didn’t realise what was happening to me, where I was, what I was doing there, what they were going to do with me. After two or three months, they transferred me to a single cell. And then the interrogations started, to get me to admit that I was a spy and who I was working for. There was an interpreter, a soldier from Transcarpathia who spoke Hungarian fluently. He said I should confess, because if I stretched it out I would die in prison. But I told him, “I haven’t been a spy. I don’t know what it means.” He insisted I should say I had and this nagging and pressure went on a long time. Because the interrogations were at night, in the daytime, they wouldn’t let me sleep. I had to stay upright in the cell all day. And a soldier would look through the spyhole to see I didn’t lie down but kept walking. Altogether, they were torturing me that way to get me to quickly say what they wanted to hear. In the end I couldn’t do anything. I was completely exhausted: they wouldn’t let me sleep or eat. So I said that indeed I was a spy, but I also had to sign a paper saying so. I also had to say where I’d been trained, in which school, who my teachers were, etc. And I couldn’t give any answers to that because I wasn’t a spy and I had no idea. And with the advice of the interpreter they wrote down what they could. Then some months passed. And just before Christmas I was called into the office and I had to sign that I had got ten years. The interpreter told me that I was being sent for ten years’ forced labour, but I shouldn’t be afraid because it would be all right and I could even survive perhaps, and after ten years I would be released and would live in Russia with a job and a flat and things would pass. I was almost glad.

I can’t tell you or, what shall I say, I can’t describe the things that happened to me in that prison because there were all sorts: sometimes I was put under a tap with drops of water falling on my head all the time. They would torture me that way with cold water. They called in the “box”. I nearly froze to death. Then they would take me out to go for interrogation.”

You need to have Flash Player installed to view this content.

Klara Hartmann in Gödre, 31 August 2009