Freedom Square (Szabadság tér) is located in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, close to the Parliament. This space is also special because it is home to the Soviet Monument, which is very divisive in society. Some people think that the monument is a symbol of Soviet oppression, while others recall the liberation of Budapest from the German army at the sight of the monument.
The construction of the New Building began in 1786, in the area of today’s freedom space. The building, designed by architect Isidore Canevale, used to be a prison for captive French officers. It was later transformed into an artillery barracks and a military academy. On the southern side of the square was the Promenade. It was later renamed Széchenyi Promenade, as he initiated the forestation and landscaping of the area. Participants in the War of Independence of 1848-49 were also imprisoned in the New Building.
Lajos Batthyány, the first Hungarian prime minister, was executed here.
They then wanted to use the building as a printing press and orphanage, but this did not happen. It was demolished in 1897, and a square was created according to the plans of Antal Palóczy. In 1900, it was named Freedom Square. Here you can find the Hungarian National Bank, the Stock Exchange Palace, and the Hungarian Trade Hall.
In 1928, the Relic Country Flag was handed over and placed in the square. Due to the Second World War, Budapest was in ruins. At the time, there were almost 40,000 buildings in the Hungarian capital, of which 1,500 were destroyed, 9,100 were severely damaged, and 18,600 were damaged, writes budapest-ostroma.hu.
Almost all of the German and Hungarian soldiers defending the capital died or were taken prisoner of war.
The Soviets also lost 95,000 soldiers during the siege of Budapest. However, soldiers from the liberating Red Army committed a number of rapes. Plenty of civilians were taken to forced labour. After the Second World War, instead of rebuilding the capital, strengthening ideology came to the fore. As a result of this, many monuments have appeared, for example, the Soviet heroic monument in Szabadság Square, writes hellomagyar.hu.
One of the most important elements of the monument is the five-pointed star at the top. “Glory to the liberating Soviet heroes” can be read in Hungarian and Russian Cyrillic letters. During the 1956 revolution, the monument was mutilated, but it was restored immediately after the revolution.
The monument has caused a divide in society since the regime change.
Several have suggested that it could be taken to a less central location at least. However, in order to maintain a good Hungarian-Russian relationship, this is not feasible. Some are reminded of the liberation from the German army and the end of World War II at the sight of the monument. Most, however, associate it with the 40-year Soviet occupation.