East German students stood up for Hungary in 1956


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  • 2019. March 02.

On the Memorial Day for the Victims of Communism a film about a class in the GDR that stood up for the 1956 Hungarian revolution was screened for secondary school students in Agora. The screening was organized by the Committee of National Remembrance, and students could meet one of the participants of the events the film was based on.

Students of four secondary schools (Lovassy Secondary Grammar School, Noszlopy Secondary Grammar School, Vetési Secondary Grammar School and Padányi Catholic School) arrived to watch A néma forradalom [Silent Revolution]  altogether 220 students with the accompanying teachers. The film is based on the real events that one class of a school in the East German Stalinstadt commemorated the victims of the revolution with two minutes of silence, and they were charged with an attempt of counter-revolution.

Mayor Gyula Porga said in his greeting speech that historical events can be brought closer to students if they learn about them through real-life examples.

After the screening Áron Máthé, vice chair of the Committee of National Remembrance (NEB) conversed with Karsten Köhler, one of those who participated in the events that served as basis for the film. The guest talked about how the story is based on real happenings, but the narrative certainly has fictional elements too. To a question from one of the students, which character he was in the film, he answered that he was the spokesperson of the class, but his personal story is represented in a number of characters in the film.

In answer to another question, he said that the reason why their story did not become well-known was that it was not in the interest of the GDRto give publicity to their story. Köhler remembered that he left the German Democratic Republic in December 1956 and saw his classmates again in a refugee camp in West-Berlin in January. They had to leave West-Berlin as soon as possible because agents of the Stasi often dragged the fugitives back. Finally they took their school-leaving exams in a school near Frankfurt. He could return to the GDR only twenty years later as a visitor, after the act was passed that eliminated the punishment of fugitives who fled to the West. In his closing remarks, Köhler said that he found it most important to share this story with as many young people as possible, and that is why he participated in the screening events at almost forty  German and Hungarian locations since last February, where he could talk about the events to present-day students.


events Áron Máthé 1956