A Kelenföld flat reveals its secrets - Preface 02
Updated: Aug 2, 2020
Tales of a Teenage Spy - The Life and Times of Gábor Rimner
So began my relationship with Gábor Rimner, a polyglot Hungarian who at the time was approaching his 38th birthday. A fortnight later, in a cramped, communist-era flat in south Buda, he began relating his remarkable tale of an anti-communist upbringing, his early teenage years in Sudan, how he was recruited by the Americans and sent back to Hungary where, without even trying, astonishingly he fell into work in the very three institutions he was told to target by the Americans – the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence.
But if anyone thinks that spies live non-stop, action-packed glamorous lives a la James Bond, they should think again. Most of the time Rimner's life was like that of any other, a daily routine of work and humdrum living.
Except for one aspect: Rimner did seem to have a certain way with women. Ok, maybe not ladies with diamond necklaces hugging the roulette table while marvelling at the dashing agent's astonishing “skill” at guessing the winning numbers - but women nonetheless.
Moreover – and this has hit me only near the end of writing his history - not unlike agent 007, women were to play a pivotal role in his espionage 'career', that is in both his successes, such as they were, and his downfall.
On March 27, 1981, after eight years of a double-life, coded messages and drop-box pick ups, Hungarian counter-intelligence agents lifted Rimner in broad daylight from the pavement on what was then Rudas Lászlo utca, near Budapest's Nyugati Railway station.
But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself here. This was originally part of the preface to the book - perhaps I should just start the story now, and let it speak for itself.
I've written it in the first person, based on many hours of interviews with Gábor, starting in 1991 over time, although the bulk of the interviews took place in the autumn of 2003.
I've edited and cleaned up the text somewhat, and added certain details and passages to help younger readers and non-Hungary specialists to understand, but I'd say 80 - 85% of the text consists of Gábor's words.