This was our vacation of Nazi and Soviet atrocities. We went to see the House of Terror, the excellent, sleek and interactive museum in which the atrocities that took place under the Gulag, Nazi and Soviet occupations are documented. The building itself was the former Nazi headquarters and was used as a jail and torture chamber for political prisoners. In addition to the exhibits describing the persecutions and forced marches of dissenters, Jews, and religious leaders, they have recreated the basement cells where torture and executions took place. It was a compelling argument against fascism.
The Hungarians have wisely not destroyed all evidence of Soviet occupation, but rather taken all of the old communist statuary and placed it together out in a run-down, crabgrass-laden park near the city outskirts. They don’t eradicate the history, but they don’t emphasize it either. We took a bus out there to examine the CCCP relics. Next to the park was a shack with an exhibition memorializing the Hungarian revolt in 1956 against the Soviet occupation, which ended with thousands arrested and 250 people executed. The park’s most famous statue is that of Stalin’s boots, which were part of a statue that was torn down by the protesters in 1956; this iconic symbol is one of the most famous representations of Hungarian protest.
B was challenged to recall his freshman year Russian and was able to decipher several phrases.