2016. April 12.
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History of Communism in Budapest with guide

This guided tour in Budapest takes you back in time, to the period after the fall of the Communist regime in Hungary in 1989. In this year, many of the Communist statues and monuments were immediately removed, these formed the basis for the current collection of statues in the park. After the visit of The Memento Park, we will continue with the inside visit of the House of Terror, in a museum located at Andrássy út 60 in Budapest, Hungary. It contains exhibits related to the fascist and communist dictatorial regimes in 20th-century Hungary and is also a memorial to the victims of these regimes, including those detained, interrogated, tortured or killed in the building.

The Memento Park is an open-air museum in Budapest, Hungary, dedicated to monumental statues and sculpted plaques from Hungarys Communist period (1949–1989). There are statues of Lenin, Marx, and Engels, as well as several Hungarian Communist leaders. The park was designed by Hungarian architect Ákos Eleőd, who won the competition announced by the Budapest General Assembly in 1991. On public transport diagrams and other documents the park is usually shown as Memorial Park.

A quote by the architect on the project: This park is about dictatorship. And at the same time, because it can be talked about, described, built, this park is about democracy. After all, only democracy is able to give the opportunity to let us think freely about dictatorship. Memento Park is divided into two sections: Statue Park, officially named “A Sentence About Tyranny” Park after a poem of the same name by Gyula Ilyés, and laid out as 6 oval sections; and Witness Square (also called "Neverwas Square"), which lies east of the main park entrance and is visible without payment. Statue Park houses 42 of the statues/monuments that were removed from Budapest after the fall of communism. Witness Square holds a replica of Stalins Boots which became a symbol of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 after the statue of Stalin was pulled down from its pedestal in 1956, and is flanked by two single storey timber structures housing the internal exhibition space, their design being evocative of simple internment camp buildings.

After the fall of the Communist regime in Hungary in 1989, many of the Communist statues and monuments were immediately removed. These formed the basis for the current collection of statues in the park. On June 29, 1993, the second anniversary of the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Hungarian territory, the park celebrated a grand opening as a public outdoor museum.

2006 marked a new chapter in the history of Memento Park. A life-sized copy of the tribune of the Stalin Monument in Budapest was built in the Statue Park with the broken bronze shoes on top of the pedestal. This is not an accurate copy of the original but only an artistic recreation by Ákos Előd.

In 2007 a new exhibition hall and a small movie theater were opened in the Witness Square of Memento Park. The photo exhibition called “Stalins Boots” in the exhibition hall takes the viewer through the history of the 1956 revolution, of the political changes of 1989-1990 and of Memento Park, with both English and Hungarian captions. In the barracks-theater one can see The Life of an Agent, a documentary on the methods used by the secret police, directed by Gábor Zsigmond Papp. The film is shown in Hungarian with English subtitles.

House of Terror

House of Terror is a museum located at Andrássy út 60 in Budapest, Hungary. It contains exhibits related to the fascist and communist dictatorial regimes in 20th-century Hungary and is also a memorial to the victims of these regimes, including those detained, interrogated, tortured or killed in the building. The museum opened on 24 February 2002 and the Director-General of the museum since then has been Dr Mária Schmidt. The House of Terror is a member organization of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience.

The museum was set up under the center-right government of Viktor Orbán. In December 2000 the Public Foundation for the Research of Central and East European History and Society purchased the building with the aim of establishing a museum in order to commemorate these two bloody periods of Hungarian history.

During the year-long construction work, the building was fully renovated inside and out. The internal design, the final look of the museums exhibition hall, and the external facade are all the work of architect Attila F. Kovács. The reconstruction plans for the House of Terror Museum were designed by architects János Sándor and Kálmán Újszászy. The reconstruction turned the exterior of the building into somewhat of a monument; the black exterior structure (consisting of the decorative entablature, the blade walls, and the granite sidewalk) provides a frame for the museum, making it stand out in sharp contrast to the other buildings on Andrássy Avenue.

With regard to communism and fascism, the exhibition contains material on the nations relationships to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. It also contains exhibits related to Hungarian organisations such as the fascist Arrow Cross Party and the communist ÁVH (which was similar to the Soviet Union KGB secret police). Part of the exhibition takes visitors to the basement, where they can see examples of the cells that the ÁVH used to break the will of their prisoners.

Much of the information and the exhibits is in Hungarian, although each room has an extensive information sheet in both English and Hungarian. Audio guides in English and German are also available. The background music to the exhibition was composed by former Bonanza Banzai frontman and producer Ákos. The scoring includes the work of a string orchestra, special stereophonic mixes, and sound effects.

 

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