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Petition Launched to Change Communist Street Names in Hungary

Ábrahám Vass 2019.02.27.

On the Day of Victims of Communism, an organization called Community of Hungarian Patriots (MPK) launched a signature-drive in order to permanently alter any public names keeping the memory of communism alive, Magyar Nemzet reported.

In 2012, the government voted in favor of changing any public name referencing an authoritarian regime or its contributor. As a result, up until 2017, more than 2,200 name changes were registered.

Magyar Nemzet also notes that the legislation sanctions those who fail to comply and applies not only to public names but also to the titles of companies, institutions, social organizations and press outlets.

In addition, smaller municipalities often tend to delay the implementation of the modifications due to the high administrative and financial costs hitting the local administration and businesses.

As a result, to this date, MPK’s volunteers have counted and accumulated 718 public names still bearing a reference to Bolshevik leaders, party ideologists, early communists or those actively taking part in the promotion of the Rákosi and Kádár systems. For example, at the moment, more than a dozen public names are coined after Lenin, Vörös Hadsereg (Red Army) and the notorious communists of the 1919 red terror, Tibor Szamuely and Béla Kun.

The east end of the village of Jászfelsőszentgyörgy with May 1 (Május 1.), People’s Army (Néphadsereg), Red Army (Vörös Hadsereg) and Lenin streets. Via Google Maps

The aforementioned legislation and signature-drive will likely draw a number of debates regarding the politics of memory. For example, many are conflicted about the continued presence of Ervin Szabó’s name on Budapest’s library network. After all, aside from having played a crucial role in the construction of the library and its large-scale accessibility, Szabó was known for his revolutionary communist ideas and was involved in planning the assassination of Prime Minister István Tisza.

MPK intends to address the petition to PMO Chief Gergely Gulyás.

featured image : illustration; via MTI/Tibor Rosta