Vladimír Vujovits
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Vladimír Vujovits (1927-2012)
Head of Ministerial Department, interpreter

Date of Interview: July 2007 – April 2009
Length of Interview: 316 pages
Name of Interviewer: János Molnár
Name of summary maker
: János Molnár

The interview was made of the Oral History Archive of the Institute of 1956, its original copy can be accessed and reasearched in the Institute.


Vladimír Vujovits was born on November 25th 1927 in Belgrade.
His father, Radomir Vujović (1895-1939) was a communist party activist in Serbia. His mother, Erzsébet Vujovits (née Arvale, also referred to as Erzsébet Blüch) (1899-1961) was a Hungarian communist activist and party official.


The Vujović family

The father of the Interviewee was the oldest son of a Serbian blacksmith, Dimitrije Vujović and his wife, Angelina, who lived in Požarevac. The children were, in order of their birth: Radomir (Rada), Vojislav (Voja), Gregor, Svetislav (Sveta), Trifun (Bucha) and Zhivka. The Interviewee did not know his paternal grandparents. (pp. 1-2, 7-8, 49-51.)

Three of the Vujović brothers, Radomir, Vojislav and Gregor, took part in the underground Yugoslav communist movement (pp. 13-15).
Vojislav Vujović (1897-1937?) achieved quite a career in the international communist movement – he worked for the Comintern, and eventually became the Secretary of the Youth Comintern.
Gregor (Grgur) Vujović was also an illegal communist, who moved to Moscow, where two of his brothers had already lived with their families.
The other Vujović children kept away from politics and lived in Yugoslavia.

Radomir Vujović worked as a nurse during the First World War, and then studied medicine in Vienna, although he never completed his medical degree. He was arrested in Yugoslavia for illegal communist activities, and was imprisoned between 1927-1932. Rodoljub Čolakovic, Moša Pijade and Josip Broz Tito, who later became communist leaders, were his cell-mates (pp. 14-15, 20-21, 33.).


The Blüch-Arvale family

The maternal grandfather of the Interviewee was Adolf Blüch, who ran a shipping business in Fiume (Rijeka). His maternal grandmother was Adolfné Blüch, née Berta Spitzer (1870-1949) (pp. 3-7, 11.). His grandfather died early, the Interviewee did not know him. His grandmother played an important role in the life of Vladimír Vujovits, they lived together all her life, and even returned from the Soviet Union together. His grandmother came from a merchant family in Győr (Hungary), her father was Miksa Spitzer, spice-tradesman (pp. 45-49).
The mother of the Interviewee had five sisters. The girls, who grew up in Fiume, were (in order of birth): Júlia, Elena, Erzsébet (Liza), Vilhelmina (Mimi), Rita and Edit. They were all leftist thinkers, and took the name Arvale during their communist activities (the origin of which is unknown) – pp. 3-12.
Erzsébet Arvale worked as an assistant of paediatric specialist Zoltán Pártos during the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919, where they organized summer holidays for working class children (pp. 12-13, 17-18). Later she studied medicine in Vienna, where she met fellow student Radomir Vujović. They got married in 1926 (pp. 3-4, 18-19).
Júlia Arvale married Miklós Sziza, one of the leaders of the Galilei Circle, a group of freethinking university students (founded in 1909). After the death of her first husband, she married László Boros, a leftist journalist, and lived in Berlin until 1933.
Elena Arvale attended the University of Belgrade, became a doctor, and lived in Belgrade.
Vilhelmina (Mimi) Arvale married a Hungarian communist, Dezső Jász (1897-1981), who later was an officer, and general, leader of the operations of the Republican Army in the Spanish Civil War, under the name Juan de Pablo.
Rita Arvale studied medicine in Rome, but abandoned her studies. She was imprisoned for two years for illegal communist activity in Romania, and was the first in her family to move to Moscow in 1926.
Edit Arvale moved to Moscow with her mother, her mother’s sister, and the Interviewee, in 1928.


In the Soviet Union

Vladimír Vujovits was born in Belgrade. In the same year, his father was imprisoned in Yugoslavia. It is very likely that his mother travelled to Belgrade to visit her husband in prison, while staying with her sister. Due to unclear conspirational reasons, Erzsébet Vujovits was forced to leave Belgrade soon, and her mother smuggled the baby Vladimír to Austria (pp. 18-19). The family, Erzsébet Vujovits, her baby, her mother and her sister Edit, left Vienna in 1928 (when the Interviewee was nine months old) and moved to Moscow. Vladimír Vujovits spent his childhood in Moscow (pp. 19-20, 22-26).

Erzsébet Vujovits first worked as an editor in the International Institute of Agrarian Affairs in Moscow – Imre Nagy, who later became the martyr Prime Minister of Hungary, was her colleague. A few years later, together with her sister Rita she completed her studies in the Academy of Red Profession (a teacher’s training program), then worked at the Foreign Language Publishing House, where she translated and edited Marxist pieces into Hungarian (pp. 25-26).
Radomir Vujovits was released from prison in 1932 and followed his family to Moscow. He became an employee of the Comintern, and filled a not too high position (pp. 33, 37-38, 42-44).
In the beginning of the great purges, in 1937 the family moved into exile to Ilinskoye, a village close to Moscow (probably because of the arrest and execution of Vojislav Vujović). The father of the Interviewee, Radomir Vujović, was arrested in September 1938. For several years his family did not know about his whereabouts, and only found out in 1953 that he had been shot dead in April 1953 (pp. 42-44, 50-51).


The story of the rest of the family

The uncle of the Interviewee, Vojislav Vujović, had lived in the Soviet Union since the 1920s. He had a successful career in the international youth communist movement, and became Head Secretary of the Youth Comintern. In 1927 he opposed Stalin on some ideological issues, and was first banished for a few years, then, during the great purges, he was arrested and executed. His wife also died in prison (pp. 38-40).
The third brother, Gregor Vujović, also lived in Moscow with his wife and child, and worked for the Comintern. He was also arrested and executed during the great purges. His wife was imprisoned in a forced labour camp for 10 years (pp. 41, 50-51).
The Vujović brothers were rehabilitated in 1957. A street was named after Radomir Vujović during in socialist times in Belgrade, and a square in Požarevac.
Júlia from the Arvale family also moved to Moscow from Berlin with her husband and child in 1933, after Hitler’s rise of power. Her husband, László Boros, was arrested and executed during the great Moscow purges (pp. 35-36).
Elena Arvale stayed in Belgrade and became a paediatric specialist.
Mimi Arvale and her husband, Dezső Jász, fled to France after the defeat of the Spanish Republicans and victory of Franco. There they were first interned, but they escaped. Later they lived in Paris. Dezső Jász took part in the French Resistance. During the Second World War they lived in Berlin for a few years. Presumably Dezső Jász was an important person of the Soviet intelligence, under the name Juan de Pablo (pp. 111-117).
Rita Arvale married János Mathejka, a Hungarian communist emigrant writer in Moscow. During the great purges both of them were sent to forced labour camp. János Mathejka was released after a few years, but died shortly after due to health problems from the time of imprisonment. Rita Arvale spent almost 18 years in various camps (pp. 25-31, 51-58).
Edit Arvale married Serbian communist emigrant, Gojko Samadzić in Moscow. The man was arrested during the great purges and then was never heard of. During the war one of Edit’s two children died of starvation (pp. 108-111).


The war

In the beginning of the Second World War 14 year-old Vladimír Vujovits was evacuated to a Comintern children’s camp by the river Volga. Erzsébet Vujovits was moved to Engelsk, together with the Foreign Language Publishing House. Later she managed to arrange for Vladimír to move to Engelsk. There they lived in great poverty, were starving. In 1943 Erzsébet Vujovits was ordered to move back to Moscow, and her son illegally accompanied her on the train (pp. 58-59, 63-64, 67).
After the war they started to organize their move to Hungary, and were waiting for the Interviewee to finish high school. A reason in favour of their move was that towards to end of the war their Soviet citizenship, that had been granted in the ’30-es, was reviewed and annulled. The mother of the Interviewee did not reapply, instead, she applied for Hungarian passports for her family (pp. 75-78).


Moving to Hungary

Vladimír Vujovits was 19, when he moved to Budapest, Hungary, with his mother and grandmother in 1946 (pp. 75-80.)
Soon they were followed by Edit Arvale and her remaining daughter, Maja (who later became the wife of Lajos Szilvási Hungarian writer). Edit died in 1956 due to heart problems (pp. 108-111).
Judit Arvale also moved to Budapest with her two children (pp. 117-120).
Rita Arvale was released from almost 18 years of Siberian forced labour camp in 1955, and soon afterwards moved to Hungary. She was a pensioner, and volunteered for various communist organizations. She became a good friend of Hungarian writer József Lengyel (pp. 120, 153-154, 277-283).

Erzsébet Vujovits immediately got a job in the Party’s Central Education Department in 1947, then was appointed as a counsellor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the branch of diplomacy. After the 1949 fall of László Rajk, minister of interior affairs, the main culprit of the first Hungarian show-trial, she was also accused of having Yugoslavian connections (because of her husband) and she was the target of an investigation. She was then transferred to the Institute of Economics, later to the Szikra Publishing House, where she translated books and became head of the Marxist-Leninist Department. The Publishing House was renamed Kossuth Publishing at the end of 1956. She retired around 1957. In 1961, she died of lung cancer (pp 80-81, 97-98, 121-124, 257-261.).

Upon his arrival to Budapest in the beginning of 1947, Vladimír Vujovits immediately became a member of the communist party (MDP). For a short time he worked for the Soviet embassy in Budapest, his man task was the putting together of a review each day about the daily news (pp. 81-85.). In August 1947 he took part in the “bluebill elections” (he voted twice) that the communists won by cheating (pp. 86-87.) In 1948 his party membership was reviewed, but as he did not cooperate with the commission, he was relegated to candidate status. Around 1950-51 he received his party membership booklet again, but by then it did not mean so much to him (pp 94, 125-127.).
In the autumn of 1947 he first started to study law in Budapest, but he did not like it (pp. 89-91.). He reapplied to the University of Economics; he graduated in 1952 in its faculty of foreign trade. During his studies, between 1950 and 1952 he worked for the Hungarian Radio’s Russian language section, as translator, editor and newsreader (pp. 129-130.)
After his studies he started to work at the Ministry of Foreign Trade, and was responsible for the Bulgarian and Albanian affairs (pp. 105-107, 132-140.).
In 1954 he returned to the Hungarian Radio’s Foreign Language Department, as head columnist – he was the editor of a program called “Literature for Moscow” (pp. 91-94, 130-132, 148-152, 157-160, 190-192.)



The Interviewee sympathized with the reformist political forces centred around Imre Nagy, who became prime minister in 1953. He was present at the press debate organized by the Petőfi Circle in June 1956, he attended the reburial of former minister of interior affairs, László Rajk, executed in 1949 – which were the main events organized by the reformists (pp. 131-132, 156-159.). In the days before the revolution together with a colleague of his he was accompanying a Soviet journalist called Agarkov: they took him to the Hungarian Writers’ Alliance, to the reburial of Rajk and to see Lake Balaton (pp. 157-158, 163-165.).
On October 23rd, 1956, he was working in the Hungarian Radio until the afternoon. He saw the protests, but had left the building before the shooting started (this is where the revolution broke out). He went home to his apartment at Heroes Square, but before he had a look at the Stalin statue nearby, which had been knocked over earlier that evening (pp. 165-172, 190-191, 194-195.).
On October 24th he stayed at home, but on the 25th he returned to the empty, ravaged building of the Radio (pp. 176-77). In the next few days he walked around in the city, visiting the scenes of battle and bringing food to his friends (pp. 199-201.).
On November 3rd he was called to present himself at the temporary radio studio set up in the Parliament (operated by the Free Kossuth Radio that supported the revolution), because they needed his knowledge of Russian. On November 4th at dawn he translated, then read in Russian the announcement of prime minister Imre Nagy, asking for help against advancing Soviet troops (pp. 179-183, 185-190, 201-205, 211-216.).
After November 4th he stayed at home for about 10 days, then started to work at the temporary radio studio of the Parliament, mainly listening to Russian broadcasts and taking notes. In March 1957 people working for the Free Kossuth Radio were dismissed, including him (altogether 122 employees were fired) (pp. 213-216, 222-224, 234-237.).


After 1956

After the fall of the revolution of 1956 he did not reapply for membership in the newly formed communist party, the MSZMP (pp. 85-86), as he did not like the new regime. In his file, though, they failed to delete his party membership (he noted this after he had retired and could access his files). He thinks this was the reason why he could fill important roles even afterwards. His “shortcoming” was revealed at the end of the ’70-ies, and he was ordered to apply for membership, which he refused (pp. 216-218.).

After March 1957 he was unemployed for three months, then started to work for the Ministry of Foreign Trade. He was the main lecturer of the department of planned economy. He was responsible for Comecon affairs; he was working for, and occasionally interpreting for József Incze and later, József Bíró, ministers of foreign trade, in the meetings of the Executive Committee of the Comecon, as well as participating in the work of the Permanent Committee of Foreign Trade of the Comecon. He travelled vastly abroad due to his work, as part of various delegations (pp. 225-234, 237-242, 246-248, 261-263.).

Since 1960 he has lived with a teacher of Russian descent, Inessa Petrovskaya, who was teaching Russian in the Miklós Radnóti high school. They got married in 1961 and had a son, György (pp. 224, 244-246, 286-289.).

He worked for the Council of Ministers between 1965-1972, and was an interpreter in the Department of International Trade Relations, working for deputy prime minister Antal Apró, responsible for Comecon affairs. After the dismissal of Apró, his superior became Péter Vályi, deputy prime minister, until 1972. He was travelling a lot with this job as well, he took part in several hundreds of high ranking delegations, including 22 government delegations, as Russian interpreter. (pp. 240-242, 248-256, 263-277, 283-285, 291-299.)

In 1972, he gave up his job at the Council of Ministers, to organize and lead the Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Trade. He still travelled a lot, and interpreted for minister József Bíró. He retired in 1988. He was awarded the silver Merit of Work award (pp. 301-310).
Because of his knowledge of Russian and his positions – he thinks – he took part in about 900 delegations.


The story of Inessa Vujovits

The wife of Vladimír Vujovits was also present at the interview. She was born on November 5th, 1932, in Moscow, her full name is Inessa Vladimirovna Petrovskaya. She is of Russian ethnicity, her father’s side originates from southern Ukraine, her mother’s side from around Herszon.
Her father was military officer Vladimir Grigoryevich Petrovskiy (1898-1937), who worked for the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), his highest rank achieved was colonel. Her mother was Palina Naumova Pesochina (called Petrovskaya after getting married), who worked as an engineer and designed electric power stations. She has one sister, Izora (pp. 98-102.).

The family lived in Moscow in the ’30-ies. Her father committed suicide under unclear circumstances during the great purge. His death was concealed from his family – the official version states that he was sentenced for ten years, with no right to receive or send mail. In 1954 his wife was informed that he had committed suicide. Vladimir Grigoryevich Petrovskiy was later rehabilitated (pp. 102-104.)

Inessa Petrovskaya was nine years old at the beginning of the war, in 1941. Her mother stayed in Moscow, but sent the two girls to the countryside, by the river Volga. After her mother’s factory was moved to the Ural mountains, the family spent two years living there (pp. 66-67, 104.)

She studied to be a geography teacher in a college in Moscow between 1951-1955 (pp. 141-142.)
In 1953 she married Március Matejka, a geographer of Hungarian ethnic background, the son of the writer János Mathejka. Through her marriage she became related to the Hungarian emigrant family, the Bogdánys (the mother of Március Matejka was a Bogdány girl). (pp. 60-62, 143-146.)

Inessa moved to Hungary in October 1955 with her husband, Március Matejka, and baby daughter, Irina. (pp. 62, 143-144, 146-147.)
In the autumn of 1956 she worked for two months in the Gorky School, which was a Russian-language elitist school that closed down under the revolution (pp. 147, 154-156.)
During the revolution of 1956 she was mostly at her home in Madách Square with her daughter and grandmother. Her husband marched with the university students on October 23rd, and took her to the Technical University on the 24th. In the days that followed, she only left her apartment once, when she went to the Gorky School, but was denied entry. During and after the days of the revolution they entertained many people in their home, especially emigrants from Moscow (pp. 173-175, 183-186, 196-198, 215.).

She started teaching Russian at the Miklós Radnóti High School, where she worked for 49 years. (pp. 246, 286-289.)
In 1960 she left Március Matejka, and went to live with Vladimír Vujovits, whom she had known since 1955. They eventually got married and had a child together in 1961. (pp. 224, 244-246, 286-289.)

She received a doctorate (C. Sc.) in geography, and wrote several Russian language-books. In 2007 she was awarded the Russian Teacher Life Achievement Prize.

Inessa Vujovits died on April 22, 2012. Her husband, Vladimir Vujovits on August 11, 2012 follow her.