Hungary’s revolution of October 23, 1956 was commemorated in a ceremony in the US capital on Monday.
“We Hungarians, a people of freedom, being of a small country but a great nation, dared to say from time to time: enough of tyranny; and we dared to confront much stronger powers than us,” László Szabó, Hungary’s ambassador to the US, said at the ceremony held in the Kennedy Center. In 1956, he noted, Hungarian people made a stand for freedom “in the face of hundreds of thousands of occupying Soviet soldiers and dreaded communist militants”.
Szabó said 1956 laid the foundation for a change of regime thirty years ago. At the time, a young lawyer who is now Hungary’s premier was one of the first to demand the withdrawal of Soviet troops and the country’s democratic transformation, he added. Referring to accusations that Hungary is friendly with Russia, he noted that Russian soldiers had helped the Habsburgs to crush Hungary’s fight for freedom in 1849, and in 1956 Hungarian freedom fighters were crushed by Soviet troops. Whereas Hungary needs Russian energy imports, this does not equate to eternal friendship, he added.
October 23 will be commemorated in the next few days in other parts of the US, too. On Sunday, Hungarians living in Southern California and Los Angeles held commemorations. Tibor P Nagy, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs at the US Department of State, and Thomas B. Modly, Under Secretary of the Navy, attended the Washington commemoration.