Oral History Center - UC Berkeley Library

Jozsef Szentesi: An Interview with Jozsef Szentesi

Szentesi, Jozsef
Thomas, Virginia
Jozsef Szentesi: An Interview with Jozsef Szentesi
Jozsef Szentesi’s family experienced at first hand the population displacements which roiled Eastern Europe after World War II. His parents were of ethnic German origin and his family, excepting his father, had to move away from home in 1947 to make room for Hungarians who, in turn, had been forced to move out of Slovakia. His father was allowed to remain because he was a policeman and had Magyarized his name from Sauter to Szentesi. However, with the coming of Communism he was kicked out of the police and became a day laborer, working mostly for farmers. Szentesi grew up in poverty and went to school in Budaors and Budapest. He characterizes the history books he was taught from as “lying, lying, and lying.” He wanted to work as a clerk in a hotel office after high school but was refused, later learning that with his background he was rejected because he was unlikely to use the job to spy for the Communists. He became a waiter at a fancy restaurant until at 21 he had to go in the army, where he worked as clerk in a post kitchen assuring that the use of “Communist recipes” was exact. He was also a member of the army badminton team. When Szentesi got out of the army he progressed from being a manager of various food services, including restaurants, to owning a grocery Commerce, Industry, and Labores, then to owning a wholesale grocery Commerce, Industry, and Labor. In the last position, although he was very careful to follow the law exactly, he ran afoul of the Communist government, which bent the law to serve itself. After the changes of 1989, he ran a billiard room and then went into raising grapes and producing the wine for which he is now famous. He discusses how to make excellent wine. Discursive Table of Contents: Background and education—Work as waiter and army life—Restaurant manager—Store owner and Commerce, Industry, and Laborman under Communism—Wholesale Commerce, Industry, and Labor, problems with Communism—1989 changes, billiard room, Commerce, Industry, and Labor complex—Current wine company
Subject area(s):
Community and Identity
Community and Identity - Individual Interviews
Szentesi, Jozsef. "Jozsef Szentesi: An Interview with Jozsef Szentesi." Interview by Virginia Thomas in . Oral History Center, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, .