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Poet and Parachutist Hanna Szenes to Receive Statue in Budapest

Fanni Kaszás 2019.11.18.

As we previously reported, The Hosszúlépés. Járunk? (Long Step. Are we going?) tour guide team has decided that this year, five extraordinary women who still inspire all of us, who built the city and were active fighters of women’s equality will get their own well-deserved statues in Budapest. The II. district has already pledged to help the movement and Gergely Őrsi, its newly elected mayor, has announced that he will initiate the erection of a statue of Hanna Szenes, a Hungarian poet and parachutist, at Széna tér.

In Budapest, there are nearly 1,200 statues in the metropolitan area, only 35 of which depict women – less than those depicting animals – who are well-known, that is, a historical figure, artist, hero, or role model, rather than a nude decoration. The Hosszúlépés. Járunk? (Long Step. Are we going?) tour guide team has decided that in 2019, five extraordinary women will be commemorated with their own statue.

Movement for More Women Statues in Budapest Starts with Poll

In total, 10 women were selected, some of whom are more well-known artists, poets and activists, while some have been unjustly forgotten. People can vote from week to week in 5 categories for the 10 women on Facebook, and the 5 most popular figures are set to be memorialized in the capital in the coming years.

In the category “Politicians, activists, heroines,” Hanna Szenes has won the Facebook vote and at a press conference, the second district’s newly elected (opposition) mayor, Gergely Őrsi and Budapest deputy mayor Gábor Kerpel-Fronius have announced that the district pledges to erect the statue of the poet and parachutist Szenes at Széna square.

Kerpel-Fronius emphasized that it is important to commemorate women with statues and they are planning to erect a memorial, and he really wishes that the new statues do not “…carry on with the tremendous amount of visual pollution that has filled the public spaces of Budapest over the past decade. We would like to see not just statues, but memorials that show intellectual and visual courage worthy of the women we commemorate.”

The poet, who died at the very young age of 23, though not so well-known in Hungary, is considered to be a national hero in Israel. Szenes was of Jewish descent and one of the seventeen people trained by the English army in the then-British controlled Palestine who were dropped to the area of Yugoslavia and who tried to prevent the imminent deportation of Hungarian Jews. After being captured at the Hungarian border, she was imprisoned and tortured, but she did not reveal the details of her mission and was therefore executed.