World War Two prisoner liberated after 55 years

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The Independent Online

The last prisoner of the Second World War may be about to return home - 55 years after it ended.

The last prisoner of the Second World War may be about to return home - 55 years after it ended.

A 75-year-old Hungarian, long believed dead on the Eastern Front, has been found alive in a Russian mental hospital. He has lived the past 20 years unable to have a conversation with anybody, because he speaks no Russian, and nobody at the hospital speaks Hungarian.

When news emerged several weeks ago that a mysterious Hungarian who had lost his memory was living in the Kotelnich psychiatric hospital, 310 miles east of Moscow, Dr Andras Veer, director ofthe Hungarian National Psychiatric and Neurological Institute, travelled to Russia to examine him.

In an interview with the Hungarian Vasarnapi Hirek newspaper yesterday, Dr Veer says he believes the man is Andras Tamas, a Hungarian captured by Soviet troops in 1945, and transferred the same year from a prison camp to a hospital. Dr Veer says Kotelnich hospital's records for the Hungarian in 1947 match the recently discovered papers for the transfer of Andras Tamas from the prison camp two years earlier. But the man cannot confirm his identity and is suffering from memory loss.

He can barely speak Hungarian any more, according to Dr Veer, who says Mr Tamas told him the last Hungarian-speaking patients left the hospital 20 years ago. The psychiatrist told RTL-Klub television that this was what triggered the man's memory loss.

Since the mystery patient's picture was shown on Hungarian television, several families have called in, saying they recognise him, RTL-Klub said. But details of Mr Tamas's life before 1945 remain unclear. Dr Veer says he may have come from an area of Slovakia that used to be part of Hungary.

The Hungarian embassy in Moscow has asked the Russian authorities to allow Mr Tamas to return to Hungary. His war may finally be over.

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