On a chilly Sunday afternoon, October 25th , a small group of faithful Hungarians attended the wreath laying ceremony at the Fairfield Town Hall grounds. The memorial plaque was dedicated in 2003 in honor of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight against the Soviet oppression.
Zsuzsa Lengyel, President of Magyar Studies of America, welcomed our guests, First Selectwoman, Brenda Kupchick and State Selectwoman, Laura Devlin and all the other guests.
Karolina Szabo read “Magyar Fohász” by Tamási Áron.
Olivér Valu and Ralph Szor placed the red, white and green carnation basket by the memorial.
After we sang the Hungarian National Anthem, Olivér sang “Szép vagy, gyönyörű vagy Magyarország”. We stayed for socializing for a short while, and left in an uplifted spirit.
Due to Covid-19, we skipped our usual program and reception at the Fairfield Museum and History Center.
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After the wreath-laying, I arrived at my son’s home, and we talked about the Revolution. I remember it well; I was a sophomore in high school. It was October 23, 1956.
It was the bravest Revolution, when a handful of youth decided it was enough. As they marched on the Budapest streets, thousands joined them, and turned against the largest army in the world.
The fight didn’t last too long, two weeks only. The Soviet army withdrew from Budapest, only for a short time, and didn’t go too far. The tanks were waiting by the border. On the 31st of October, the Russians were already on the move, surrounding Hungarian airports, and other important places. When it was obvious that the West just looked on, but would not come to help the Hungarians, they returned on November 4th with renewed strength. The Revolution was beaten, but faith was never lost.
The price of the Revolution was high. From October 23rd, 1956 to April 23rd , 1957, 2,500 – 3,000 people died, most of them under 30 years of age. 78% of this number were murdered in Budapest. Close to 20,000 were injured by guns, grenades, and tanks.
After the Russians returned, close to 300,000 Hungarians left the country, afraid of Socialism and of revenge.
And revenge came. Snipers from rooftops were shooting – without discimination – whoever walked on the streets. Many children were killed; their numbers are still unknown; the documents were destroyed. Many were held until they came of age, and were executed then.
In other cities, masses were shot from planes, regardless of who they were.
In Erdély, even 10 years after 1956, retaliation went on; 60 were killed, 12,000 were arrested on made-up charges. The Erdély “intellectuals” were decapitated.
Yet the Hungarians didn’t give up hope.
On June 19, 1991, the last of the Soviet army left Hungary by Záhony.
They left 60 army barracks, 10 airbases, over 5,500 buildings, 500,000 tons equipment, immeasurable trash, and damages.
The price of leaving the country was $800 million that the Russians demanded from Hungary. Hungary asked 80 billion Ft for damages from the Soviet Union. In 1992, Boris Yeltsin, Soviet President and Antal József, Hungarian Prime Minister met in Budapest, and the mutual demands were waived.
The lost lives of many young man and women were not in vain. The country is thriving, and we have hopes that it will continue after the virus is defeated and peace returns to our native land.
Karolina Tima Szabo is a retired Systems Analyst of the Connecticut Post newspaper and Webmaster of Magyar News Online. She is the proud grandmother of two.