Sunday, June 30, 2013

House of Terror Again

I visited the House of Terror in 2003, I believe, when I was doing research in Budapest for the Irredentism book.  I was struck then by how the Hungarian experience of World War II and of Communism was displayed.  Unlike most other remembrance museums I have been to, this one is clearly produced by politics.  The right wing parties established the building in early Aughts and some of the displays do seem to tie the left wing parties of today, the Socialists, with their predecessors of the Communist period--the Hungarian Communist Party.

This time, I noticed even more that the Arrow Cross (the Hungarian fascists of World War II) and the Communists of the Cold War era were somewhat conflated.  There was even a video of people taking one set of clothes off and putting another one--that the society at large put on whatever clothes required of the time.  Maybe I am reading too much in this, but it seemed as if this identification of Fascists with Communists might have been aimed to remove/display the taint that the contemporary right wing might otherwise wear from history. 

My favorite part was altered somewhat but still very much intact in spirit.  The very first part of the exhibition is a map of Hungary that shrinks in 1920 as the Treaty of Trianon (a product of choosing the losing side in World War I) created Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia at the expense of Hungary plus Transylvania went to Romania.  The map then grows during World War II as Hungary re-annexed the lost territories, and then Hungary shrinks to its current size at the end of WWII.  So, it is a map of irredentism. 

The "new" surprise is how little of the space is dedicated to post 1956 Hungary, after the Soviet crackdown.  From my interviews after my first visit to the Museum, I learned how central the shared experience of post 56 Hungary was to Hungarian identity and nationalism, yet it is not reflected here at all.  

Note: Wifi at hotel is not letting me post picture.  Maybe tomorrow ....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, "Nem, Nem, Soha!"
Enjoy your visit, and avoid Lufthansa in the future!