Joseph Polocz oral history interview
World War II veteran Joseph Polocz is interviewed about his military service and his expertise in mechanics and machine restoration. He describes his wartime experiences as a member of the Royal Hungarian Army and Royal Hungarian Air Force, his time in a French prisoner-of-war camp, and his post-war life as a laborer in Germany and France. He then discusses his immigration to the United States and his technician career with Philco and RCA. The interview concludes with an overview of Polocz’s volunteer work at The Museum of Flight Restoration Center, where he served on the restoration teams for the Boeing 247 and several Link Trainers.
Table Of Contents
Joseph Polocz served with the Royal Hungarian Army and Royal Hungarian Air Force during World War II and afterwards immigrated to the United States, where he had a decade-spanning career with RCA as an electronic technician. He was born on May 10, 1921 in Pannonhalma, Hungary. His father was an ornamental metalsmith. During his youth, Polocz studied his father’s trade, worked at a brick factory and movie house, and assisted family members on the family farm.
During World War II, Polocz was called to military service with the Royal Hungarian Army. He later transferred to the Royal Hungarian Air Force, where he trained as a mechanic and served as an instructor at a mechanical school. He also participated in glider training. At a late point in the war, Polocz and another serviceman escaped from advancing Russian forces by flying an obsolete Dornier Do 23 aircraft out of their abandoned airfield. Polocz’s unit was captured by American forces soon after, and he spent approximately three months in a French prisoner-of-war camp. Following his release, Polocz worked in Germany as a farmhand, then attempted to return Hungary. When he learned that many returning Hungarian soldiers were being sent to the Gulag, he decided to return to Germany.
In the post-war years, Polocz worked as a coal miner in France but soon became worried that the heightened international tensions might lead to another war. With the help of UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration), he immigrated to the United States and settled in Pennsylvania. Though he initially did not speak English, Polocz’s strong mathematic and mechanical skills led to a job opportunity with the Philco Corporation. He later was hired by RCA as an electronic technician. During his 38-year career with RCA, Polocz worked on technology related to the Moon program and the guided missile cruiser, among other projects.
After his retirement, Polocz relocated to Washington State and settled in the Everett area. In the 1980s, he joined The Museum of Flight Restoration Center as a restoration volunteer. He served on the restoration team for the Boeing 247 and also helped to restore several World War II-era Link Trainers to operational status. As of 2014, he is still an active volunteer at the Restoration Center.
Polocz married his wife, Mary, shortly after his immigration to the United States. The two had one daughter, Maxine.
Biographical information derived from interview and additional information provided by interviewee.