Hungary: Memorial Day for the Victims of Communism

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“Never again shall we tolerate subjection to the like of this.”*

The Hungarian Parliament decided in 2000 that 25 February in each year will be dedicated to remember the victims of communism based on.

This is a very sensitive issue in Hungary, and I imagine all of the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe, since it was something that was un-talked about for long decades of the socialist era. Generations grew up learning from textbooks that were intentionally falsifying history, describing the socialist regime as liberators and heroes who saved our country.

When after World War II the world could openly talk about and be horrified over the horrors of Holocaust – most righteously so, then people who were tortured and/or died in communist labour camps or of the brutality of Red Army soldiers or in prisons because they refused to cooperate the undemocratic regime, were seemingly forgotten in this part of the world.

There is an older generation who lived through World War II, experienced the terrors of the “liberator” Red Army and the darkest sides of communism, and then had to continue their lives being silent about it. For more than 40 years, even though many unfortunate events went on in the meantime as well. Behind closed doors they could secretly talk about those to their children who would not have heard about them in school or elsewhere, but for fear many of them chose not to even do that.

After the regime change in 1990, history books were rewritten, but people’s mindsets proved to be more difficult to reinstall. In Hungary, even to this day this issue fails to be dealt with properly no matter which political side leads. And I wouldn’t even want to blame that on politics, the topic is fundamentally a difficult one and perhaps really takes time to elaborate.

This initiative to dedicate a memorial day to those ignored for too long is a good step on the way. Not because it could do them any good so long after, but because it provides an occasion to talk about people and issues who deserve to be talked about. So today we are remembering the victims of communism, not just the Hungarian victims, but those of all the past and current communist regimes around the world.

*Edit: I forgot to add, you can click on the picture above to learn more about the actual history of the day.

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