In 2000, the Parliament adopted a resolution which declared February 25 the annual Memorial Day of Victims of Communism. On the same day in 1947, Béla Kovács, leader of the Independent Smallholders’ Party, was unlawfully detained and deported to the Soviet Union. He spent eight years in prison and labor camps and died in 1959 at the age of 51.
A commemoration was held at 60 Andrássy út, former building of the Police State Protection Department (ÁVO) and the State Protection Authority (ÁVH) and one of the symbols of the era’s violent system of oppression, which is now occupied by the House of Terror Museum. Mária Schmidt, General Director of the museum, opened the event with a speech.
Mária Schmidt, General Director of the House of Terror Museum (photo: Noémi Bruzák / MTI)
Addressing the event in the museum, Gergely Gulyás, group leader of ruling Fidesz party, said that Béla Kovács’s unlawful arrest on this day 71 years ago was a milestone for the Soviet regime in building communist rule. He added that Kovács’s arrest marked the beginning of the terror that went hand in hand with the building of a totalitarian dictatorship. He added that
Kovács’s only sin was that he, like many of his fellow politicians, was fighting for a free, independent and Christian Hungary.
Addressing a commemoration in a cemetery for former prisoners in Vác, near Budapest, State Secretary at the Ministry of Human Resources Bence Rétvári said that under the communist regime, criminal proceedings were brought against almost a million people, while in the early 1950s some 390,000 people were convicted for political reasons. He added that those 800,000 people, who had been put into years of forced labor after WWII, must be remembered.
Other commemorations were held across the country as well. In Budapest, Sister Anna Magna Hargitai of the Sisters of the Divine Redeemer received the Parma fidei award this year, presented by Dalma Mádl, the widow of Ferenc Mádl, former President of Hungary. In Pécs, a memorial house opened in the birthplace of Béla Kovács. In addition, throughout the day, anyone could light a candle at the Wall of Heroes, outside the House of Terror Museum, to remember and pay tribute to the victims of the totalitarian regime.
János Áder, President of Hungary, commemorates the victims in front of the House of Terror Museum (photo: Noémi Bruzák / MTI)
The number of those killed by communist dictatorships around the world has been estimated at one hundred million; in Eastern-Central Europe the number is around one million – this represents those who lost their lives through starvation, in forced labor camps, or who were cruelly executed.