10/23/2013 - 1956-2013: AHF hosts reception in Honor of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The event was held at the National Press Club on October 18, 2013. The Press Club's Holeman Lounge was filled to capacity. The guest speaker was Ferenc Kumin, Deputy State Secretary for International Communications, Hungarian Prime Minister's Office. Bryan Dawson, AHF Executive Chairman, served as Master of Ceremonies and would deliver the keynote address, "I am a Child of 1956." He recognized honored guests from the Hungarian Embassy, the Woodrow Wilson Center, the National Press Club, the US State Department, the Polish American Congress, the United States Information Agency (USIA), students from local universities and others.
Mr. Dawson opened the event with a collection of video footage from 1956 as they were aired to Western audiences during these fateful events. He introduced AHF President Frank Koszorus who reflected on 1956 and Hungary's national character which gave rise to many struggles for freedom and urged all to avoid "putting politics before history and by questioning the Hungarian nation’s commitment to democracy." Mr. Koszorus noted AHF's key role in assisting 1956 Refugees as they arrived in the United States:
"Their enormous sacrifice seemed futile [in 1956] but today it is universally recognized as having contributed to the ultimate demise of Soviet domination of Central and Eastern Europe and the restoration of constitutional democracy and independence in Hungary and the region. The American Hungarian Federation is an organization founded in 1906 which strives to unify our community. We honor the heroes of 1956 today as we did during those fateful days when AHF activated its Hungarian Relief Program, raised over $525,000 and, worked closely with the International Rescue Committee and others, to aid in the refugee resettlement effort.
Since then, AHF has been committed to keep the memory of 1956 alive. As we contemplate the promise of Hungary 1956, we are reminded that that promise must never be forgotten or abandoned, as the heroes of 1956 deserve nothing less. That is why it is distressing to witness some abusing democratic ideals by putting politics before history and by questioning the Hungarian nation’s commitment to democracy.
One just needs to remember: the Golden Bull issued 7 years after the Magna Carta in1222, which set forth the rights of all freemen; or the Diet of Torda in the 16th century which declared the equality of the Lutheran, Calvinist, Unitarian and Catholic denominations; or the Revolution of 1848 when Hungarians rose up against Hapsburg oppression with Lajos Kossuth, “champion of liberty,” at the helm of this struggle; or July 1944 when a Hungarian armored division blocked the deportation of more than 200,000 Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary; or 1945 when despite Soviet occupation, Hungarians resoundingly rejected the Communist Party and elected the Smallholders Party." [download Frank Koszorus' remarks]
Secretary Ferenc Kumin reflected on how heartening it was to see the continuing importance given to the anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, a subject that was taboo in Hungary under communism, and thanked the Federation, whose members include many 1956 Freedom Fighters, for holding the commemoration. He said a "new type of relations" has developed with Hungarian communities abroad, including the United States. "Hungary considers the diaspora Hungarians 'a natural part' of the nation." He expressed thanks to the United States for accepting the refugees from Hungary and added that the mere fact he could address members of the diaspora as the representative of a free and democratic Hungary was an achievement worthy of the ideals and hopes of the freedom fighters of 1956.
Bryan Dawson, whose mother was wounded fighting the communists in 1956, delivered a brief, but very personal keynote address entitled, "I am a Child of 1956" which reflected on the Hungarian character, the ingenuity and heroism of the Hungarian Freedom Fighter, and the revolution's effects on his own upbringing. He urged an end to petty partisan politics, resistance to false propaganda, called for a renewed focus on honest debate, and described the continuing oppression facing many communities worldwide including the ethnic-Hungarian communities living in the sucessor states in the Carpathian Basin, concluding "our work is not done."
Sari Barczay, leader of the Hungarian Scouts of Washington, D.C., delivered a stirring rendition of Tollas Tibor's stirring poem, "Bebádogoznak Minden Ablakot" (They’ve Walled up Every Window):
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The 1956 Hungarian Revolution was the first tear in the Iron Curtain. Hungarians from all walks of life rose up against insurmountable odds to fight the brutal Soviet installed Hungarian communist government. Thousands died fighting, others tortured and executed, while 200,000 were forced to flee. We must never forget and always honor their memory.
New Videos posted to the AHF 1956 Portal! "News Magazine of the Screen" presented "Flight from Hungary" in early 1957 featuring video taken after the brutal Soviet re-occupation. "This is battered Budapest under the brutal Russian boot, Soviet tanks roam the streets under the ruins they laid as communist secret police hunt down heroic Freedom Fighters. 25,000 Hungarians are dead." A fascinating video, it also includes news about the Suez Crisis and more glimpes into life during this time. [See all our Videos]
On October 22, 1956, a group of Hungarian students compiled a list of sixteen points containing key national policy demands. They were read at the foot of the General Bem statue, a Polish hero of the 1848 War of Liberation, in solidarity with the anti-communist demonstrations in Poznan, Poland. Following an anti-Soviet protest march through the Hungarian capital of Budapest, the students attempted to enter the city's main broadcasting station to read their demands on the air. The students were detained, and when people gathered outside the broadcasting station to call for their release, the state security police fired on the unarmed crowd, setting off the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Click the picture to read the 16 points!
AHF's work regarding the tragic events nearly 50 years ago, dates back to the early days of the revolution and thereafter assisting tens of thousands of refugees. In 1956 the American Hungarian Federation activated the second Hungarian Relief program for the refugees of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, providing $512,560.00. With the support of the American Hungarian Federation, over 65,000 refugees arrived in the USA. Get involved and help us continue our tradition of helping our community! Join Us!
States that have passed the 1956 Revolution 50th Anniversary Resolution:
4/28/2006 - Texas became the first state to adopt the AHF 1956 resolution (House Resolution 75). AHF extends sincere thanks to Texas Senator Janek and Representative Woolley for introducing the measure and to AHF's Texas Chapter President Chris Cutrone in Austin and Honorary Consul for Hungary Phillip Aronoff in Houston for their efforts in securing the introuduction of the resolution. The resolution's title: "Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution and recognizing the sacrifices of Hungarian Freedom Fighters, the contributions of Hungarian Americans, and the friendship between the people and governments of the United States and Hungary." Full text of the Texas resolution can be found on the Texas House Website.
The Houston Chronicle also published an Op-Ed calling attention to the resolution by Hungarian Honorary Consul Phillip Aronoff in Houston and Bryan Dawson-Szilagyi, AHF Chairman of the Executive Committee.
Ohio. Special thanks to the Hon. Péter Ujvági, Ohio State Representative (D) who successfully pushed the resolution (#212) through both state houses. [download the resolution] Ohio Governor Taft also issues a proclamation [download]
- AHF President Emeritus, Entrepreneur, Freedom Activist,
and 1959 US "Citizen of the Year," George K. Haydu, passed away
after long illness. The death of this great humanitarian and
leader is a major loss for the Hungarian-American community and to all
his many friends. Despite many death threats and being shot in the leg
during "Loyalty Day" parade in New York City, George was undeterred
in his efforts to bring freedom to Hungary and comfort to refugees.
5/19/2005 - Gergely "Bajusz" Pongratz, a leader and hero of Hungary's anti-communist revolution of 1956, has died at age 73.
Pongratz suffered a heart attack on Wednesday in the southern
Hungarian town of Kiskunmajsa where he lived, said Dezso Abraham, secretary
general of the World Council of Hungarian 56ers revolutionary veterans
group. During the revolution, Pongratz was commander of one of the key
resistance groups fighting the Soviet army. [read
12/10/2004 - JENO SZEREDAS, 90, Hungarian Freedom Fighter Federation Founder, AHF Member, and Noted Artist Dies...
Jeno Andras Szeredas, Hungarian political activist and Senator, 1956 Freedom Fighter, Founder of the Freedom Fighters Federation in the United States, poet and artist of rare talent died quietly in his sleep at his daughter's home in Connecticut on November 30. He had just celebrated his 90th birthday.
Memorials Dedicated to 1956
"October 23, 1956, is a day that will live forever
in the annals of free men and nations. It was a day of courage, conscience
and triumph. No other day since history began has shown more clearly the
eternal unquenchability of man's desire to be free, whatever the odds
against success, whatever the sacrifice required."-
President John F. Kennedy,
Albert Camus' Stirring Letter to the World:
"The Blood of the Hungarians"
I am not one of those who wish to see the people of Hungary take up arms again in a rising certain to be crushed, under the eyes of the nations of the world, who would spare them neither applause nor pious tears, but who would go back at one to their slippers by the fireside like a football crowd on a Sunday evening after a cup final.
There are already too many dead on the field, and we cannot be generous with any but our own blood. The blood of Hungary has re-emerged too precious to Europe and to freedom for us not to be jealous of it to the last drop.
But I am not one of those who think that there can be a compromise, even one made with resignation, even provisional, with a regime of terror which has as much right to call itself socialist as the executioners of the Inquisition had to call themselves Christians.
And on this anniversary of liberty, I hope with all my heart that the silent resistance of the people of Hungary will endure, will grow stronger, and, reinforced by all the voices which we can raise on their behalf, will induce unanimous international opinion to boycott their oppressors.
And if world opinion is too feeble or egoistical to do justice to a martyred people, and if our voices also are too weak, I hope that Hungary’s resistance will endure until the counter-revolutionary State collapses everywhere in the East under the weight of its lies and contradictions.
Hungary conquered and in chains has done more for freedom and justice than any people for twenty years. But for this lesson to get through and convince those in the West who shut their eyes and ears, it was necessary, and it can be no comfort to us, for the people of Hungary to shed so much blood which is already drying in our memories.
In Europe’s isolation today, we have only one way of being true to Hungary, and that is never to betray, among ourselves and everywhere, what the Hungarian heroes died for, never to condone, among ourselves and everywhere, even indirectly, those who killed them.
It would indeed be difficult for us to be worthy of such sacrifices. But we can try to be so, in uniting Europe at last, in forgetting our quarrels, in correcting our own errors, in increasing our creativeness, and our solidarity. We have faith that there is on the march in the world, parallel with the forces of oppression and death which are darkening our history, a force of conviction and life, an immense movement of emancipation which is culture and which is born of freedom to create and of freedom to work.
Those Hungarian workers and intellectuals, beside whom we stand today with such impotent sorrow, understood this and have made us the better understand it. That is why, if their distress is ours, their hope is ours also. In spite of their misery, their chains, their exile, they have left us a glorious heritage which we must deserve: freedom, which they did not win, but which in one single day they gave back to us. (October 23, 1957)
AHF dedicates this work
- Read this in German, Hungarian, French, and Spanish on this AHF member site, the [American Hungarian Museum]