Budapest (MTI) – Hungary’s Crimes of Communism Foundation and Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) organised in Budapest on Tuesday a conference on the aftermath of communist totalitarianism.
In his opening address, Frank Spengler, the head of the Hungarian office of the KAS, said that it was important to address the aftereffects of communist rule, not least because it helps show young people today the extent to which the dictatorship invaded people’s lives and destroyed families and the overall burden it placed on public life.
But over time, the people living under communist rule developed survival instincts that allowed them to “outsmart the state”, he said. As a result of this, post-communist societies tend to have a deep distrust of the state and state institutions and are generally deeply skeptical of party-based democracy, Spengler added.
He said that if the revolutionaries who took part in the uprisings of 1953 in East Germany, 1956 in Hungary, 1968 in Czechoslovakia and 1980 in Poland had not been as brave as they were and had not made as many sacrifices as they did, the reunification of Germany and the integration of Europe would not have come as quickly as they did.
In a letter addressed to the conference, human resources ministry state secretary Bence Rétvári said the heroes of Hungary’s revolution had aimed to achieve national independence, end the constant presence of terror and establish a Christian and democratic Hungary. Coming to terms with the past is not an easy thing to do and Hungary can learn a lot from Germany in this respect, the letter said.
“The message of the revolution and freedom fight of 1956 is that we can only count on ourselves if there is trouble. No one else will defend our country for us,” the state secretary wrote.