The generation that includes witnesses to dictatorships is gradually disappearing so it is important to listen to them while possible, Hungary’s Human Resources Minister Zoltán Balog said at the end of a memorial walk in Budapest marking the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism on Wednesday. 23 August is the anniversary of the signing of the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Nazi Germany and Soviet Union in 1939.
Hungary’s Human Resources Minister Zoltán Balog (photo: Szilárd Koszticsák – MTI)
“Remembering makes sense only if the witnesses get to speak to us,” Balog said at the House of Terror museum. A few years ago, the Holocaust memorial year and later the Gulag memorial year and the ’56 memorial year were held to enable survivors to tell their stories and teach the generations that follow them. Zoltán Balog said:
Memorial years come to an end but remembering will continue
The anniversary of the event where “incredibly cynical, inhumane and godless people decided on a piece of paper about the destruction of millions of lives, and the enslaving of nations living on a territory the size of a continent”, Balog said, adding that “this day clearly indicates what a terrible place Central-Europe torn into pieces by two world empires as quarry was in 1939 and in the decades that followed.”
Piarist monk Lajos Kerényi (photo: Gergely Botár – kormany.hu)
Before the memorial march, Piarist monk Lajos Kerényi, who survived the Soviet labour camp, stated at Kossuth tér: all totalitarian regimes want human beings to stop being human beings, to stop having a will of their own, and to be reduced to a mere number. He reiterated: in the Donbass forced labour camp where he was taken as a prisoner of war and where they all had a very difficult fate, a handful of young boys decided to never lose heart, and to conquer despondency, and to conquer communism with the strength of the cross.
Flowers of remembrance at the Shoes Memorial on the Danube Bank (photo: Szilárd Koszticsák – MTI)
The memorial march started from Kossuth tér, the participants first walked to the Shoes Memorial on the Danube Bank where they each laid a white flower in memory of the victims. Following this, a group of a few hundred walked to the House of Terror Museum. The remembrance event was attended, among others, by Bence Rétvári, state secretary of the Ministry of Human Capacities, Deputy Mayor of Budapest Gábor Bagdy, House of Terror Museum head Mária Schmidt, representatives of opposition parties and churches, and members of the diplomatic corps.
via MTI and kormany.hu; featured photo: Szilárd Koszticsák – MTI