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Division on the anniversary of 1956

October 23rd, 2015

Newspapers contrast the current divisions Iin Hungary to the short lived national unity of the two weeks of the 1956 revolution. The dailies are not published on national holidays, including October 23, but devote editorials to 1956 in their Thursday editions.

In Népszava, Róbert Friss complains that the anniversary has lost its appeal. People don’t feel it istheirs, because the right—wing government is trying to “sacralise” it, he claims. Friss also thinks that neither does the government care for ’56, since they are ambivalent about Imre Nagy, ‘the Prime Minister of the revolution’ whom they respect as a martyr but not in his capacity as a Communist leader.

In its front page editorial, Népszabadság remarks that we are approaching the time when all participants and eye witnesses will be dead. A long time has passed since the moment of national unity, “the increasingly distant autumn when all Hungarians fell a bit in love with one another”.

In Magyar NEMZET, György Pilhál strikes a similarly nostalgic tone. In 1956 the Communist Prime Minister and the Catholic Primate ended up on the same side, just AS former Gendarmes (who had rounded up 430 thousand Hungarian Jews who were to be deported to Nazi death camps) and István Angyal (a revolutionary detachment commander and Buchenwald survivor) fought side by side. Pilhál concludes by asking “Would anyone have believed that to this very day we would be disputing the heritage of 1956?”

In Magyar Idők, historian Károly Szerencsés agrees that for a short time, 59 years ago there was overwhelming national unity around the ideals of freedom and independence. In was a cathartic moment, he admits. However, he rejects the idea of shaking hands with certain kinds of people on the anniversary – “the denunciators, the expropriators of the revolution and the traitors.”