European Remembrance Symposium was successful in Budapest

Budapest, 26.05.2016

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  • 2016. May 25.

Sixty years ago in 1956 fear ceased and the system melted; after the crush of the revolution no thinking person could believe that communism was not a dictatorship and it served people's best interest – said the Minister for Human Resources on 24th May in Budapest.

Europe Remembrance is the fifth of a series of symposiums on 20th-century history and it focuses on the 1956 revolution. Mr Zoltán Balog said that the communist dictatorship and 1956 are not just private matters of the countries that were under Soviet occupation. It is a concern of Western Europe in the same way as "our shared history, World War I and II". The heritage of communism is poisonous even where it did not prevail – said Minister Balog. He emphasized that the freedom fights of Central European peoples against communism can also be a lesson for those who lived in a free world after 1945. "We did not choose to live outside the free world. It cannot be a coincidence that countries of Eastern and Central Europe have different, more sensitive reactions at the time of the migration crisis than the political elite of Western Europe". These countries – as the Minister said – are much more sensitive to the issue of retaining national sovereignty and identity. He added that it cannot be understood without being familiar with the history of the past seventy years. The migration crisis brought back the gap between the countries of Western Europe, the free world of the time and those in the Soviet occupation zone, and "it is still there in terms of mentality and way of thinking" – said Zoltán Balog, stressing that if we remember and act together, we can still share the experience of belonging together despite our different histories.

The participants of the symposium were welcomed by the presidents of Hungary and Poland in writing. Mr János Áder wrote in his letter that people in the region never gave in to tyranny. That is demonstrated by the events of Poznan and Budapest in 1956. He added that every nation had a different way of achieving freedom, but they suffered tyranny jointly and ended it together. At the turn of the 80s and 90s the peoples of the region regained their autonomy, and new, democratic orders were built. The changes of 1989–90 could not have taken place without the events of 1956 and for that, the joint efforts of the Hungarian and Polish peoples were necessary. The Hungarian revolution started in Poznan – the Minister wrote. Mr János Áder emphasized that the dictatorial regime plunged and democracy became a reality to such an extent that "sometimes we feel we do not appreciate it enough” and that is why we need to talk about it. That is why we need to restore the dignity of freedom and justice together" – he said.

Mr Andrzej Duda, President of Poland wrote in his letter that "preserving remembrance, especially in the dramatic historical context of the last century gives us the chance to think about a joint future". The President representing the Republic of Poland paid tribute to the participants and victims of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, to all who stood up against the Soviet dictatorship. The revolutions of Poznan and Hungary demonstrate the resistance ability that the two countries displayed against the communist suppression – ha added.

Mr László Lovász, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences that hosted the event emphasized that remembrance and solidarity is the only way to a better future for Hungary, Europe and the whole world. Mr László Regéczy-Nagy, freedom fighter of 1956, ex-convict, President of the Committee for Historical Justice said that communists realized that Hungarians did not fit their world view: they refused to give up their religion, history and properties.
Mr Lukasz Kaminski, President of the Institute of National Remembrance said that the year of 1956 was a response to the suppression of communist dictatorship, economic exploitation, propaganda, loss of independence and to "an ungodly society".

Réka Földváryné Kiss, Chairperson of the Committee of National Remembrance emphasized that 1956 was not only a shared historical experience, but a shared universal cultural code – not only in the satellite states of the Soviet bloc, but on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

The symposium started on Tuesday with the representatives of more than two hundred institutes focusing on 20th-century history from twenty-five countries. The event was organized by the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity, the Committee of National Remembrance and the Research Centre for the Humanities of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The aim of the annual symposium of the European network is to promote and enhance the cooperation of institutes and organisations that focus on the research and teaching of 20th-century history.

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