The 1956 Revolution belongs to the common remembrance of European peoples

MTI, 22.05.2016.

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  • 2016. May 23.

The 1956 Hungarian Revolution belongs to the common remembrance of European peoples, it contributes to Spanish and Portuguese identity the same way it does to Hungarian, although certainly to different extent – said Rafal Rogulski, Secretariat Director of European Network Remembrance and Solidarity (ENRS), who is a participant of the three-day-long conference starting on Tuesday at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian revolution.

He said the main topic of the symposium is the "thaw" in communist countries around the middle of the 50s and its social, political, cultural, artistic and other repercussions in the broadest sense. There is debate in each area whether it is possible to remember collectively in Europe or not. This year's symposium focuses on the main events of 1956, mostly in Hungary, but in Poland as well. To the question whether 1956 in Hungary has started to somewhat fade away for Europe and the rest of the world, Rogulski answered: people in Western-Europe generally know little about the history of Central-Europe, but this is mutual, because "we do not know much about their history, either". "That was the reason to bring the Network to life, to remember various significant historical events and point to their importance for the continent" – ha added. The Hungarian events of 1956 belong to the collective European remembrance, so we need to remember them. The memory of 1956 is not an easy memory, Western-European democratic governments, but especially America would have much to be ashamed about" – he said.

"I believe that it is remembered on a political level, as that event was of key importance in European history after WWII. In terms of the perception of the Hungarian revolution in Poland, Rogulski said there is interest in the topic, just as there is interest in Hungary, Hungarian history and politics, which are constantly present in the Polish media. The Polish know that Hungarians took up arms against the Soviet occupants and that is constantly present in academic programmes – he said. The Hungarian revolution could not disappear from Polish public knowledge for the simple reason that is closely linked to the workers' riots in Poznan in June 1956, and Warsaw, just like Budapest, was surrounded by Soviet tanks in October. Although they only reached the outskirts and there was no real intervention, far-reaching changes took place in domestic politics. That is certainly taught in Polish schools, and a parallel is drawn with the events of October in Hungary. The huge wave of solidarity with the 1956 revolution at the time in Poland is not forgotten, either. "I believe this sympathy has not decreased ever since, in fact it has increased recently."– said Rafal Rogulski. He thinks "the fact that we have such difficult experiences, brings us closer to each other, we are able to understand each other better. The desire for cooperation and rapprochement is considerably greater than it would be without these experiences. The lessons learned from the 1956 Hungarian revolution are harsh and deeply sad; we should draw the conclusions, not just in Eastern-Europe but throughout the continent and the world – he said. "We witness the same means and tools being applied in the world to this day. The claim was that the Soviet army invaded Hungary in order to save Soviet citizens living there – today we hear very similar justifications". As for all the important and hard events of the 20th century, one of the most important lessons is that "we have a duty to remember". "Another lesson is that we need a process that enforces decision-makers to make wiser choices in various matters, whether it be of political nature or other.

That is one of the reasons why such symposiums are organised. And one of the aims is to emphasize that and that is why this year's conference is organised in Budapest and not anywhere else, in cooperation with the Committee of National Remembrance and the Hungarian Academy of Science – Rafal Rogulski concluded.