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Page 56

PART I - IN THE SHADOW OF DEATH
CHAPTER 6 - PRISON FOR LIFE

I was. We were taken into the courtroom and faced the fivemember court. The trial was closed to the public. Every prisoner had two guards. In the room, the Rat with a few other AVO men acted as an audience. We were not supposed to speak a word to our lawyers. In fact, up to that moment I never even knew I had a lawyer.
The Rat was right. The whole court proceeding was merely an empty formality. It really did not matter what we said or what was said to us. I was the number one defendant, and following me were Paul Almos, Bela Zsedenyi, Bela PadanyiGulas and Geza Rubletzky. This was good company-they were men I was always proud to be associated with.
They took our personal data, and then we had to step up in front of the judge one after the other to recite the text which we had memorized. I felt like an actor in a second-rate theater. As the number one defendant I was the first to start the procedure. When I got to the second paragraph and acted as though I might have forgotten some words and was trying to replace them with others, I turned around to see the Rat look very nervous. To him the court trial meant his career. The AVO rule was that the prisoner had to be presented in court, knowing his lesson without fail. I thought: why not give the Rat a few moments of anxiety. Then, on second thought, I remembered the warning that if I didn't act properly I would be beaten half to death and dragged back down to the cellar. I also remembered the promise that immediately after the court trial I could see my wife again.
Well, let's try to get it over with, I decided. After all, I have his word that they will not hang me, and that I'll get into a nice prison and even be permitted to work there. I'll be able to see my wife regularly and correspond with her.
Spurred by this motivation I told the idiotic yarn, feeling as though I were reciting a badly written detective story. Whenever I got stuck, the judge obliged by helping me out. Often he

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