Seventy years ago Budapest was liberated from fascism

70_evfordulo Vilmos Hanti’s speech at the Martyr Memorial – Budapest 13. February 2015

Dear commemorators and celebrators,

As the president of the International Federation of Resistance Fighters (FIR) and of the, this year 70 year old, Federation of Hungarian Resistance Fighters and Antifascist (MEASZ) I greet you.

Seventy years ago Budapest was liberated from fascism. We stand here, where in the winter of 1944-45 Hungarian fascists shot, in a despicable manner, hundreds of resistance fighters, rescuers, persecuted Jewish citizens, and army deserters into the Danube. It is to their memory that MEASZ has initiated to erect this memorial statue, which is a smaller copy of the Hungarian memorial in the Mauthausen concentration camp by the Greek sculptor Makris Agamemnon.

Today we remember the destruction of war seventy years ago, but at the same time we are also celebrating. On this day seventy years ago the horror in Budapest ended. As the poet Gábor Garai wrote: “But spring, spring has come; the smoke has lifted and torment dissipated.”

Those who have come here today to the banks of Danube are celebrating the winners: those who have confronted the fascism of Hitler and its Hungarian followers, and who 70 years ago brought peace to the people of our capital. We salute the former members of the antifascist coalition! Among them especially the nations of the former Soviet Union, who sacrificed the biggest bloodshed for our Seventy years later, however, we can hardly hear any of this in the state educational framework and in the state-controlled media. Moreover, we can see the official politics brainwashing the people with falsified history that aims to erase the people’s memories about the Hungarian and international antifascist resistance along with the allied liberation fights; and instead of those tries to reach a wide acceptance of the Horthyst politics; those policies that lead Hungary to enter the war on Hitler’s side. The policy responsible for sending many Hungarian soldiers
into the demise of war. The policy, which created exclusionary Jewish laws and sent a great portion of the Hungarian Jewry, Gipsies, antifascist resistance fighters and others into gas chambers. But in the consequence of the Horthyst policy a significant part of the civil population also perished and Budapest was destroyed.

Randolf Braham, holder of the Radnóti Award, a world-famous Holocaust researcher, who 18 years ago during his visit in MEASZ made noteworthy findings and already voiced his fears, which I would like to quote: “if the teachers only speak about the undoubtedly heroic Wallenberg and similar rescuers of Jewish people to their pupils in secondary schools, the six million victims and the identity of the criminals will fade.”

Today’s youth hardly know about the fact that Hungarian resistance fighters also took part in the fight against fascism. They were the real heroes, the real patriots, who jeopardized and sacrificed their lives for peace, independence and democracy. With a widespread Hungarian Diaspora all over Europe, Hungarians took part in antifascist resistance at least in 22 countries. According to the research of Ágnes Godó, former vice president of MEASZ, there were more than twenty thousand of such Hungarians. It is also a lesser-known fact that more than ten thousand Hungarian soldiers fought in the American army; and since the summer of 1941 Hungarian soldiers were fighting in the Red Army. Just only from the Buda Voluntary Brigade around four thousand soldiers joined the Soviet army.

Moreover, we shouldn’t also forget about the former partisans, among which were the partisans of Újpest under the command of László Földes, or the partisans of Rákoshegy lead by Pál Szekeres, the father of the present vice president of MEASZ. We also salute the probably best-known Hungarian resistance fighter, who just celebrated his 93rd was wounded during the liberation of Rákoshegy. Hence we always reiterate that next to the liberator’s red flag, the Hungarian national flag was also raised in the Buda Castle. The liberating troops recognized the sacrifices and efforts of the Hungarian antifascist resistance fighters.

My dear friends,

We celebrate the 70th political situation. The governmental policy in Hungary has shifted on a large scale towards the far right. Next to it a parliamentary party that strongly shows its neo-Nazi character, namely Jobbik, reinforced itself, and is ready to enter into a coalition at any given time. An earmark to our present situation is the fact that as long as we, antifascists celebrate the liberation of Budapest on this day, the Hungarian government praises the Hungarian soldiers who fought on the side of The Hungarian government has by now eradicated the democratic institutional system. It was able to spread its corrupt economic power. It substantially curbed the press and freedom of expression with legal and economic means, as well as threat. It precluded and made the work of those civil organizations impossible that were not willing to collaborate with the government. With the promise of Christian ruling and the financial support, it succeeded to gain both the open and tacit support of a great portion of Christian believers and organizations. It is however good and encouraging to know about several Christians who have expressed: what the present official Hungarian policy does in the spirit of Christianity does not mean that they are following the way of Christ.

The government approached the Jewish people and Jewish Churches with similar ‘purchasing’ intentions, but couldn’t gain major results. This plan wasn’t successful despite the fact that it actually spent a lot of money on its own Holocaust project that aimed to exempt the guilty Horthy regime. Thus, last year instead of a worthy commemoration of the Holocaust memorial year, the government rather brought about the Holocaust of the memorial year.

My dear friends,

We see that the Western and Eastern powers try to use this current Hungarian government for their own purposes. They don’t take into account that the Horthyst politics, which is currently pursued by the government, was the one that stood on Hitler’s side and against the antifascist coalition, against the Red Army.

We antifascists reject all forms of humiliation of human dignity; we dismiss the discrimination of different ethnic groups and people. We believe that equal access to goods could bring a more peaceful, fascism free life for mankind. We can still observe today the pyramid-like social structure, in which the lower we go, the more people we find in worse situations. We assert to a spherical society. In such societies material goods and other possibilities imply the possibility for the majority, and only a very small number of people are in worse position.
My dear friends,

Mankind stands before new challenges, which could be treated successfully only with the cooperation of forces respecting human values and human dignity.
It must be seen, that after 70 years, fascism is donning itself with new methods to gain ground. It shows itself differently in the Baltic States, in Ukraine, in Hungary, in Moldova or in France. But it also appears in a completely different form, namely terrorism, and uses the guise of Islam. The curbing of this is a challenge of a scale as large as the organization of the former anti-Hitler coalition was.

Seventy years ago the antifascist coalition proved that people of different ideology can unite. We antifascists are waiting for the present great powers to stand up in the spirit of alliance against fascism, the way they have done so 70 years ago. Let this be such a minimum in their relationship that overwrites every conflict of interest. They should not seek to evade each other, for which they often use the far right as a tool. Our conviction is that the representation of antifascism, which also includes humanism, could be a common goal and ground where West and East could find their interests inherent in peaceful relations. However, only undertaking the antifascist values can the opposition swing Hungary in the direction of unfolding and development.

War is the business of a narrow interest group; it doesn’t serve in a broader circle the interests of the people and the mankind. We antifascists reject war, we want peace! The armed conflict in Ukraine is extinguishing an increasing number of human lives. We call upon the sides to stop immediately the armed clashes and we greet those efforts aiming to solve the conflict through negotiations. We expect from all parties that they adhere to the agreements!

Today, as we are walking on very thin ice in Europe we must realize that there is a need for cooperation against fascism. The millions of former resistance fighters scarified their lives seven decades ago not for us, the progeny to helplessly and idly watch the strengthening of today’s fascism.


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