1956-2016: Congressional Exhibition
10/18/2016 - AHF co-sponsored a temporary “Exhibition at the United States Congress Commemorating the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight." Other sponsors included the Hungarian Embassy as part of its 1956-2016 series of events and other Hungarian-American Organizations. Hungarian Ambassador Dr. Réka Szemerkényi opened the exhibit and AHF Chairman of the Board, Frank Koszorus, welcomed the gathering.
Other dignitaries who spoke included: The Honorable Miklós Seszták, Minister of National Development of Hungary; The Honorable Dr. János Horváth, Doyen of the Hungarian Parliament and the founder of the Hungarian Revolutionary Council, New York in 1957; Dr. Jenő Megyesy, Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister of Hungary; John O’Sullivan, President of the Danube Institute; and Marion Smith, Executive Director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
"Our more than one hundred year old organization, the American Hungarian Federation, is honored and proud to be a co-sponsor of this fitting commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution when Hungarians from all walks of life rose up against insurmountable odds to fight for freedom, multi-party democracy and independence.
Our Federation honors the heroes of 1956 today as we did during those fateful days when AHF activated its Hungarian Relief Program, raised over $525,000 -- $4.5 million in today’s dollars – and worked closely with the International Rescue Committee and others, to aid in the refugee resettlement effort.
Since then, the Federation has been committed to keep the memory of 1956 alive. One just needs to view our website for an extensive collection of material concerning that historical event.
They reflect sacrifice
But most of all they reflect the triumph of the human spirit and the Hungarian character, a character that is as strong today as it was 60 years ago.
Regrettably, some would deny this character of the Hungarian people, ignoring that Hungary has regained its freedom from Soviet domination a mere twenty-six years ago, yet is a committed NATO and strong U.S. ally and a multi-party democracy, albeit an imperfect and evolving one. as even mature democracies continue to evolve. 1956 starkly refutes this misleading and skewed picture of Hungarians peddled by critics. 1956 burnishes the true nature of a brave and freedom loving nation.
Let me close with a passage from Albert Camus' stirring Letter to the World written in 1957:
"The Blood of the Hungarians"
Your presence here today inspires hope that we will never allow the memory of Hungary 1956 fade. Thank you for joining us to honor the heroes of the Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence of 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."
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. 2006 marked the 50th Anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution.
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 ($4.5 million in 2015 dollars). 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!
10/24/2013 - AHF Executive Chairman delivers multimedia presentation entitled "Reflections on the 1956 Hungarian Revolution" for the Shepherd Center World Affairs Series coordinated by A. Ross Johnson, Wilson Center Senior Scholar, Hoover Institution Research Fellow, and former Director of Radio Free Europe. Bryan Dawson, whose mother was wounded in the Freedom Fight, discussed the roots of the conflict and Polish-Hungarian sympathies, Hungary's history and national character that contributed to the uprising, and the Revolution's impacts internationally. [read more]
10/22/2015 - AHF organizes Congressional Reception with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation commemorating the 59th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and Honoring Members of Congress. [read more]
12/3/2015 - American Hungarian Federation has follow-up meeting with Ambassador Colleen Bell... During his stay in Budapest, Mr. Koszorus also met with United States Ambassador Colleen Bell. The purpose of the meeting wasto follow up on AHF’s November 4, 2015 letter to Ambassador Bell in which AHF suggested that U.S. interests – promotion of democracy and human rights, strategic and economic -- may not always be served by public criticisms which are perceived by the man-on-the-street in Hungary, whether a supporter of the government or not, to be demeaning and humiliating. [read more]
11/1/2007 - Congressional Reception for AHF Centennial... AHF celebrated it's 100th Anniversary, honored the heroes of 1956 on the 51st anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution, and unveiled its plans for a 1956 National Memorial in the Nation's Capital. AHF recognized Congressmen Dan Lipinski (D - IL), ThaddeusMcCotter (R- MI) and Dr. Lee Edwards (Chair of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation) for their support of AHF initiatives, human rights and democratic development in Central Europe. Each received a plaque and a copy of the book, "Daughter of the Revolution" by renowned poet and author, Prof. Peter Hargitai. The October 25 commemoration started with wreath laying at the Victims of Communism Memorial near the US Capitol. [read more].
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.
Born in Iglo, Hungary (now Slovakia) in 1914, Mr. Szeredas was both witness to and active participant in the turmoil sweeping over Europe for the balance of the 20th century. [more]
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]