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Memento : Issue 30
(April 1961), profession (dress maker) and many other details matched those already accumulated by Balazs and Casoar. And the tiny picture spoke a thousand words. Though I discovered no ‘J Sponga’ in any Australian directory, early June saw a second lucky break. The Archives sent me a copy of ‘Certificate No. V0906400’. The certificate, bearing a handwritten note saying ‘Naturalised 1972’, was Juliana’s. It also listed her suburban Melbourne addresses in Toorak (1961) and Ashburton (1969). Early 1970s electoral rolls matched S and J Toth with the latter. I sent letters to every S or J Toth traceable in Victoria. On 13 June 2002 I received a tentative phone call from a Mr Steven Toth asking: ‘What do you want with my wife?’ Had we finally discovered our heroine? Yes and no. Sadly, Juliana Toth née Sponga had succumbed to cancer in Melbourne on 27 May 1990. My principal involvement in the search – which included some remarkable sleuthing by staff at the had disbelieved the fantastic stories of revolt and revolution told by this poor young Hungarian whom the Toorak family housed and employed in 1961. Next year – the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian uprising – will see the full story unfold with the French publication of Looking for the Heroes of Budapest (Editions Les Arènes) by Phil Casoar and Eszter Balazs. A documentary film of the same title by filmmaker Attila Kékesi will also be screened in Budapest in February 2006. actor/playwright and author frank Bren has written extensively on the history of cinema and theatre, specifically in Poland and hong Kong. his latest book, Hong Kong Cinema – a Cross Cultural View (co-authored with law Kar and sam ho), was published last year. Archives – thus ended. Casoar and Balazs continued to fill in Juliana’s fascinating development as a troubled young woman within a family divided between servants and adversaries of the regime, through her revolutionary days when her youngest brother was killed, her escapee years in Switzerland (1957–61), to her marriage in Australia and absorption into our landscape as a suburban housewife and mother. The dreamy-eyed young man in the photograph – her fellow combatant – had died in the fighting. His story remains unfinished. In March 2005, Casoar and Balazs visited Australia – and the Archives’ Melbourne office – to flesh out Juliana’s life and personality. Accompanied by filmmaker Attila Kékesi and his colleague Gabor Szigmund Papp, they took footage at the Archives and interviewed Juliana’s husband, Steven, their eldest son (also Steven), and others close to her. Years earlier, Casoar had contacted a woman at Juliana’s old Toorak address. This woman, Caroline, now admitted she (left) Juliana in Australia, 1960s. Photograph courtesy of the Toth family. (centre) Juliana Sponga, 1961. NAA: B77, VO906400 (right) Death notice in The Sun, 29 May 1990. 12 memeNto News from the National Archives