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Nov 01, 2016

Don't forget the real heroes of Hungary's 1956 Revolution

Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács has responded to an article published in the European edition of Politico Politico.eu on Hungary's 1956 Revolution, calling out the article's biasfollowing an unsavory report on the Hungarian Revolution, the article in question was cited as being biased and disrespectful

Hungary has responded to an article written by website Politico.eu following an unsavory report on the Hungarian Revolution last week, the article in question was cited as being biased and disrespectful.

The article - Viktor Orbán's revision of the 1956 Revolution - reflected "a biased use of sources and treatment of Hungary’s national holiday" and "is unbecoming of the quality we have come to expect from Politico," writes Government Spokeperson Zoltán Kovács on the website today.

Kovács writes that the 1956 Revolution marked a turning point in the Cold War. For decades, the subject was taboo in Hungary, referred to sparingly and even then only in a distorted way as a “counter-revolution.” As a result, generations of Hungarians knew little about those freedom fighters who stood up to Soviet tanks. They had no awareness of this revolution’s huge significance beyond the borders of Hungary.

The freedom fighters were young students and manual laborers, craftsmen and factory workers, men and women, and when they bravely took to the streets for their basic rights, the communist dictatorship could defeat them only with the overwhelming force of Soviet tanks and artillery, and suffered a moral defeat. Though the freedom fighters lost the battle in November 1956, for Hungarians, the “lads of Pest” ultimately won the war against the Soviet Union.

This year’s commemoration, which marked the 60th anniversary of the revolution, is not Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s revision. It celebrates the heroes who took to the streets to fight the tyranny of communism. It acknowledges many of those who played a role — yes, including Prime Minister Imre Nagy — but the spotlight was, as it should be, on the regular folks who fought the revolution.

It is this side of the 1956 story — of a popular revolution led by the youth and brutally crushed — that was covered up for so long. Hungary’s Socialist Party, as the official successors to the communists, and their liberal coalition partners, understandably, were never comfortable with the 1956 Revolution and could never abide that side of the story.

Sadly, nearly all of the sources quoted as saying the government is trying to “monopolize the revolution” come from those circles. The author’s reliance on these sources to report on the ’56 holiday is comparable to turning to the political descendants of Alexander Dubček for a story on the anniversary of the Prague Spring or to those of Wojciech Jaruzelski on a commemoration of the strikes at the Gdansk Ship Yard. It’s not surprising that they have something critical to say.

Read more here.