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Imre Nagy’s statue removed

December 31st, 2018

A left-wing columnist interprets the removal of Imre Nagy’s monument from the immediate vicinity of Kossuth Square as the completion of Viktor Orbán’s ideological turn and his betrayal of his 1989 democratic vision. A conservative historian welcomes the decision, claiming that Imre Nagy was a nationalist communist rather than a hero of democracy.

On Thursday night, the statue of Imre Nagy was suddenly removed from its site, adjacent to Kossuth Square. The move has been explained as part of the plan to restore the pre-1944 look of the neighbourhood (see BudaPost July 24). The statue of the former PM who was executed for his involvement in the 1956 revolution will be renovated and placed half a mile to the north, in Jászai Mari Square, where the statue of Marx and Lenin stood until 1991.

In Népszava, Krisztina Hompola reads the removal of Imre Nagy’s statue as the completion of Viktor Orbán’s ideological U-turn. The left-wing columnist recalls that in 1989, Viktor Orbán gained popularity with a firebrand speech at the reburial of Imre Nagy and other 1956 martyrs. In that speech, the young liberal Viktor Orbán demanded the withdrawal of Soviet troops so that Hungary can become a free and democratic country as dreamt of by Imre Nagy and the 1956 revolutionaries, Hompola recalls. She thinks that by removing Nagy’s statue, PM Orbán has betrayed the democratic vision of the 1956 revolutionaries as well as his own democratic commitments.

On Mandiner, Gábor Sebes welcomes the removal of Imre Nagy’s statue. The conservative historian, who was elected as a Fidesz representative in the 22nd district local council in Budapest, thinks that Imre Nagy was not a democratic hero, but a nationalist communist leader. Sebes recalls that Nagy cooperated with the NKVD, and then as Minister of the Interior after World War Two, he signed the decree on the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Hungary. Sebes points out that even after having sided with the revolution in 1956, Imre Nagy wanted Hungary to introduce a national version of communism rather than democracy. As for his 1956 contribution, Nagy was not the leader of the anti-Soviet revolt, but rather an opportunistic communist who realized that it would be in his best interest to change sides and support the revolution, Sebes alleges. In conclusion, he believes that Nagy’ statue deserves a place in the ‘Statue Park’, outside Budapest, among those of Marx, Lenin and communist leaders – rather than among the monuments to heroes of democracy.

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