The number of victims of the communist retaliation is still unclear

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  • 2016. May 09.
(Photo: Fortepan)

To this day it is not known how many people fell victim to the communist retaliation, and researchers of the topic face serious difficulties – said participants of the round table discussion by Veritas Research Institute on 3rd May in Budapest.

Réka Földváryné Kiss, Chairperson of the Committee of National Remembrance said: after 1956 violence was the fundamental experience of Hungarian society, but the Kádár-era made it a taboo, rather, they magnified events of the Rákosi-era before the revolution. She added that a society of the 20th century that has lived through two dictatorships has the duty to name the victims, but it is not clear today, who were convicted for crimes and who for their political actions.

Réka Földváryné Kiss also mentioned that the participants of the retaliation mechanism after 1956 were socialized within the State Protection Authority, and reintroduced its methods. Therefore it is questionable if the documents written from their perspective can be considered as credible sources of information. We have to work by reading between the lines – she said. She added that as perpetrators were not identified (apart from the volley firing trials and Béla Biszku’s case), there has been no real social catharsis in the matter. The chaos of inside registries also demonstrated how little human life mattered at the retaliations: sometimes six to eight executed people were buried to the same grave.

Historian Tibor Zinner, leader of research group at Veritas Research Institute called the progression of research tragic. He said: important phases of research could not be conducted due to lack of documents, whilst “fundamental questions of remembrance policy are not settled”. He emphasized that the events are not only to be remembered and celebrated, but to be discussed incessantly, adding that during the trials after1956, some cases from before 1945 were brought up “for political support”. In terms of to what extent the documents can be examined, he said: “we are given everything, the question is what everything is”, as towards the end of the 1980s, people involved could decide themselves what was to remain in their personal files.