London, Apr 12 (ANI): French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s father spent his first night in Paris sleeping rough in an entrance to the Métro.
Pal Sarkozy de Nagy-Bocsa, the son of an impoverished Hungarian aristocrat, had nothing except the clothes in which he stood and a pair of borrowed shoes when he entered Paris.
oday, however, life is very different for him. He lives in a luxury apartment in an exclusive Paris suburb and is a visitor to the Elysée Palace, where his son holds court.
“I arrive as a refugee and start life on the streets,” The Telegraph quoted Pal, 80, as saying in a rare interview last week.
“And I see my son president of the republic Nicolas is a symbol of the accomplishment and success of the Sarkozy family in France,” he added.
While in the interview, Pal gave an insight into the extraordinary riches-to-rags-to-riches journey that the Sarkozy family had taken over recent generations.
The journey began as landowners in the village of Alattyan, outside Budapest, where Pal’s father and grandfather were also elected officials.
When the Red Army reached Hungary in 1940s, the Sarkozy family fled to Germany, then under Hitler. They returned in 1945, but by then all their possessions had been seized.
“First we had Hitler, then we had Stalin. I didn’t have a childhood at all, we couldn’t do any proper studies. We were refugees – we returned, we left again… It was a very complicated childhood, it was no childhood,” said Pal.
Pal revealed how in 1948 his mother advised him to head west again after the Soviet forces occupying Hungary called him up for forced labour in Russia.
“My mother told me ‘Pal, you must leave Hungary because if you don’t you will find yourself in Siberia and we will never see you again’,” he said.
He then escaped to Austria and then to Germany, while his mother told the authorities he had drowned.
In a German town, near the French border, Pal was recruited to the French Foreign Legion, but was later given a medical discharge.
In the interview with France’s Omega TV channel, he described how he then struggled after arriving in Paris.
“I didn’t have a sou (penny). I arrived without anything, without any shoes and ended up spending my first night in the entrance of the Metro,” said Pal, who eventually found a job as a runner at a film company.
“The poor are more generous than the rich. I had a friend who had two pairs of shoes and he gave me one. The problem was he was size 41 and I was 44, so I had to cut out the toes,” he revealed.
He married Nicolas’s mother Andrée, a law student and daughter of an influential doctor, when he was 22. They had three sons, Guillaume, Nicolas and François, but divorced when the boys were young.
Pal Sarkozy then went on to a successful career as an advertising designer and later a painter of what has been described as “surrealist and erotic art”. (ANI)