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“Among Freedom Fighters:” 1956 Immortalized by World-Famous Photographer

MTI-Hungary Today 2023.10.20.

The Hungarian National Museum launches a series of events related to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 on Friday with the opening of the exhibition “Among Freedom Fighters.” The special exhibition showcases photographs by world-famous photographer John Sadovy from the days of the revolution.

The exhibition is jointly organized by the museum and the National Committee of Remembrance in collaboration with the photographer’s two daughters to commemorate the anniversary of the revolution. John Sadovy was 31 years old when he introduced the world to the events in Hungary at the time of the 1956 revolution through breathtaking photographs.

The Czech-born photojournalist was commissioned by the American photo weekly Life to come to Hungary and photograph the events for four days between October 29 and November 1.

Photo via Facebook/Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum

In addition to Sadovy’s famous photos, the exhibition includes several never-before-seen images from Hungary that give a glimpse into the lives of freedom fighters and Budapest residents during the ceasefire, and show how armed rebels and unarmed civilians, adults and children, reacted to the revolution. On Saturday morning, Sadovy’s daughters, Liza Jane Sadovy and Yvonne Sadovy de Mitcheson, will give a very special guided tour in English.


John Sadovy was born on October 29, 1925 in Písek, a town in eastern Bohemia, the largest historical region of the Czech Republic. He dreamed of becoming a photographer as a child. Fleeing the invading German troops, he left home in 1939, and adventurously joined Polish units fighting under British command in Italy. During the fighting, he learned to be a war correspondent and photographer, and after his discharge from the army in England in 1948, he started working in a photography studio. In the early 1950s, he began working as a freelance photographer in the world of photojournalism, first in London, then in Paris, and later in Rome. After initial difficulties, his pictures appeared in Picture Post, Life, and Vogue magazines, among others.

On Monday morning at 11 a.m., the museum will present a new book on the anniversary: Trapped in Hotel Astoria.

The book covers the story of Herbert Frederick Rance’s account of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The English paper industry research engineer stayed in Budapest between October 16 and October 30, 1956, and typed memoirs of his experiences. In addition, the 28 photographs taken by his West German colleague Heinz Corte, have been donated to the Hungarian National Museum by Rance’s family.

The book will be available for sale at a discount in the museum’s shop on Monday, and a roundtable discussion will be held at the launch with the participation of Katalin Bognár, historian-museologist of the museum’s Historical Photographic Archives, Rolf Müller, historian of the Historical Archives of the State Security Services, and Vilmos Gál, historian-museologist of the museum’s Modern Age Department.

Photo via Fortepan

The program will close on Monday afternoon with a guided tour by Katalin Bognár, curator of the exhibition of photographs by Sadovy.

All the exhibitions of the National Museum, except the World Press Photo exhibition, will be open free of charge all day on October 23.

Programs Commemorating the 1956 Revolution at the House of Terror Museum
Programs Commemorating the 1956 Revolution at the House of Terror Museum

On October 23, the museum will be open to the public free of charge, from 10.00 to 18.00.Continue reading

Via MTI, Featured image via Facebook/Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum

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