Addressing a commemoration of the 1956 uprising, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told the audience in Veszprém on Monday, 23 October that Brussels is ‘not Moscow’. Moscow, he said, ‘was a tragedy; Brussels is just a bad contemporary parody’. ‘We had to dance to Moscow’s tune,’ he continued. But if ‘Brussels whistles’, he added, ‘we dance as we like, and won’t if we don’t want to.’
Orbán went on to state that ‘comrade training’ has now become a ‘conditionality procedure’. ‘Tanks aren’t rolling in from the East; dollars are rolling in from the West,’ he added. Moscow, he said, had been ‘beyond repair…but Brussels and the European Union can still be fixed,’ he said, referring to the upcoming European elections. The Prime Minister also said the ‘sacrifice’ of the 1956 revolutionaries was only worth it if ‘we also protect, live and pass on Hungarian freedom’. He added:
‘They didn’t die in vain if we don’t live in vain.’
Orbán suggested that Hungary could ‘give something to the world that only we can give’. Veszprém, as the current European Capital of Culture, ‘is doing exactly that: showing the whole of Europe what Hungarian culture and freedom is like.’ Additionally,
Orbán also claimed that Hungary was the ‘first and only’ country trying to ‘hold back the European people from willingly marching into an even greater war’.
Referring to the ‘chivalrous Hungarian people’, Orbán said that ‘again and again those whom we saved turn against us’ when ‘we are defending them’. He said Hungary had defended Europe against migration ‘and we were the first to propose peace instead of war, which might have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.’ Hungary, he continued, had never got appreciation, ‘but often gets a slap’ and ‘friendly fire’. ‘This is the destiny of Hungary, a pattern that repeats itself from time and time again’ he added.
The Prime Minister also said: ‘We must defend freedom or else we’ll lose it,’ then pointing out that this had been true in 1956 and in 1990, ‘and it’s true today’, adding that King St. Stephen and the revolutionaries of 1956 ‘knew that very well’.
Orbán went on to state that it would be wrong to assume the Revolution had taken place in the capital alone. ‘Every town and village…is part of our great common freedom fight…and it is not only unfair and condescending but also wrong’ to regard the Revolution as an event that happened solely in Budapest, he said, adding that it was right to ‘bow our heads’ in memory of the 1956 freedom fighters in Veszprém. The Prime Minister pointed out that around 3,000 people died and 20,000 were wounded in gunfights, while the communist retaliation saw more than 200 people sent to their deaths and 13,000 imprisoned. Consequently, a total of 200,000 Hungarians fled the country, he added. The people who suffered in prison or were executed were from all walks of life. ‘They executed priests, workers, farmers, teachers and a Communist Party leader, the old, the young, men and women, people from Budapest and the countryside,’ proving that the uprising was truly a common freedom fight of the nation, he said. ‘An entire nation stood in bloodshed.’
Orbán called the 1956 Revolution and Freedom Fight a ‘spark of Hungarian genius,’ then claimed that 1956 had been the last chance for a European Hungary ‘to tear itself away from the world of Bolshevik socialism’ which had banished ‘European culture, Christian civilisation and the right of nations to exist’.
‘The Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight wasn’t an inarticulate howl or a fit of rage of the oppressed, it wasn’t a gasp of those panting for revenge; neither was it an unbridled outburst of desire for freedom.’ Rather, he said, it was ‘a sober, moderate and responsible movement’, notwithstanding ‘the breathtaking heroism’ and bravery of the revolutionaries. He paid tribute to a local teacher, Árpád Brusznyai, who had ties to Veszprém, who, at the age of 33, was executed after the Revolution, and who had protected youth against ‘the dictatorship’s marauders’ and was the pure embodiment of Hungarian genius.
Orbán also noted that he had never heard the names of Gergely Pongrátz, Illona Tóth or Árpád Brusznyai during his secondary school years, but he had heard the names of those who ordered their executions.
‘Old sins cast long shadows, and if the sin is committed against an entire nation, it casts a shadow beyond seven generations,’ he said. ‘Today we know who Brusznyai and his fellow revolutionaries were, but we refuse to even utter the names of the killers,’ the Prime Minister said. ‘We hold them in contempt and forget them, while bowing our heads to and remember Brusznyai and the others.’
Orbán went on to say that the Hungarian nation was strong enough to confront its faults. ‘We know that the traitors are also part of our nation, they’re also part of our history, just as “ill fate” is part of the National Anthem.’ 23 October was followed by 4 November when the county’s first party secretary appealed Brusznyai’s initial life sentence ‘from right here in Veszprém’, seeking harsher punishment. ‘We won’t forget that, either.’
The 1956 uprising was ‘won at last in 1990’, Orbán said,
adding that those ‘who fought the political battles against the Soviet Union and the Communist Party leadership’ in 1989 could not have won without the legacy of 1956. ‘We fought in the name of freedom, and it was those executed in the Freedom Fight who hand us the strongest weapon, because those we opposed in 1989 had been put into power by their sins committed against Hungarians in 1956, making their power unstable,’ he pondered. During the change of regime, the only way the communists could enter the era of democracy with the hope of any political future was to first confess their biggest sin and then lose their power, Orbán said. The communists had to publicly bury the remains of the victims who had been kept secret up until that point, and once they did ‘their souls were set free and hovered above the heads of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party’s (MSZMP) leaders,’ he added. ‘As stated in Hungary’s Fundamental Law, these were criminal organisations, and there is no statute of limitations on the responsibility their leaders bear for the crushing of the Revolution of 1956,’ the Prime Minister stated.
Orbán, referring to the current Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), said MSZMP’s successor is now ‘microscopic in size’, and ‘the last left-wing party planned as the last escape route of the communists will end up exactly where it should according to the spirit of 1956’. The prime minister went on to say that ‘we only had to finish’ in 1989 what had begun in 1956.
Thirty years ‘of forced silence’ was ‘not the same as forgiveness’, he said, adding that ‘the only courage we needed was to point at them [the communist leaders] and shout that the emperor has no clothes and can’t evade the judgement of the people,’ which had been cast in the free and democratic elections that could be contested by anyone, ‘even the communists’, he said. Orbán said that in 1989–1990, the communists were ousted from Hungary without a civil war and without the loss of a single life. ‘Even though there was pain and bitterness, we avoided economic and political collapse,’ he added. He went on to point out that
Hungary, in 33 years, has been the only country in Europe where there had been no need to hold an early election, and to this day ‘we’re the safest and most stable country in the whole of Europe.’
Orbán also claimed Hungary ‘rejoined the community of European peoples’ on the back of the eventual victory of 1956, which, he added, had been a matter of ‘historical satisfaction’. The Prime Minister said the place ‘to which we have returned, Europe,’ was ‘no longer the place from which we were excluded’. ‘We wanted freedom and we are free,’ he said. ‘Europe was also united in the name of freedom, but we must face the fact that we mean different things by freedom and imagine the free world in different ways.’
‘Rid yourself of yourself, of what you were born as, but at the very least, change it,’ he said, describing the Western view. ‘Grow out of your past…change your sex, your nationality, or at least leave it behind you. Change your identity and all your components and put yourself back together according to the latest fashion and then you will be free.’ By contrast, the Prime Minister also said ‘We, here in Hungary, desired the exact opposite of that: we desired to be who we are…The thought that I shouldn’t be a man, a Hungarian or a Christian is as if our hearts would be torn out,’ Orbán said, stressing that freedom to Hungarians was not ‘running from ourselves…but rather finding our way home’. ‘Be who you are!’ he added.
‘Embrace the fact that you were born Hungarian, Christian, a woman or a man,
that you are the child of your father and mother, the spouse of your husband or wife, the parent of your daughter or son; embrace that you are a friend and a son of your country and a patriot,’ Orbán said.
‘We weren’t and aren’t willing to give this up in 1956, 1990, or 2023 for either Moscow’s or Brussels’s sake,’ the Prime Minister proclaimed, adding that freedom was a life instinct for Hungarians. That is what makes Hungarians a nation of freedom fighters.
Sources: Hungarian Conservative/MTI