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Looking Back: AHF since 1906 -
The 1956 Hungarian Revolution

The Hungarian Freedom Fighter was Time Magazine's "Man of the Year"Hungary's 1956 Revolution marked the first tear in the Iron Curtain. Hungarians from all walks of life rose up against the mighty Soviet Union in a desperate fight for freedom. Thousands died, many others tortured and jailed, 200,000 would flee, bringing untold talents to the shores of many nations, some 38,000 coming to the U.S. in the first year alone.


The Communist regime kept the video and Elvis' support of the brave Hungarian Freedom Fighters secret for 47 years. On 1 March 2011, Mayor Istvan Tarlos and the city council announced plans to bestow this honorary citizenship on Elvis and established Elvis Presley Square and a park due to the singer’s sympathy and solidarity with the Hungarian Revolution against the communists in 1956. Elvis actually made his feelings known about this issue on his third and final Ed Sullivan Show appearance on January 6th, 1957. The King dedicated his final song “Peace in the Valley” to the people of Hungary. At Elvis’ request, Ed Sullivan also asked his TV audience to donate to Hungarian relief efforts. This ended up raising about 25 million Swiss francs. [Watch the video and subscribe to AHF's YouTube Channel].

AHF, member organizations and the entire community sprung into action. Building on its experience during WWII, AHF activated its second Hungarian Relief Program, raising over $525,000 (over $4.5 million in today's dollars) and, working closely with the International Rescue Committee, found beds and supplies to aid in the resettlement effort.

Elvis Presley was also affected by the plight of refugees. Known for his humantiarianism and never forgetting the struggles from his youth, Elvis appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show to sing in support Hungarian refugees. The song "Peace in the Valley" (Béke a Völgyben) was forbidden by the Janos Kadar regime, so many Hungarians are unaware of this piece of 1956 history. [Watch the video and subscribe to AHF's YouTube Channel]

Peace In The Valley

Well, I'm tired and so weary
But I must go along
Till the Lord comes and calls me away

Where the morning's so bright
And the Lamb is the light
And the night is as bright as the day

There will be peace in the valley
for me some day
There will be peace in the valley for me, oh Lord, I pray

There'll be no sadness, no sorrow,
no trouble I see
There will be peace in the valley for me!

Béke a Völgyben (Peace in the Valley)

Fáradt vagyok és elcsigázott
Magányosan utam végén járok
Mig az Úr nem szólit magához

Bár a reggel csupa fény
De a lámpás mindig ég
Mert az éj, mint tenger, oly sötét

Béke vár a völgybem rám
Orok béke nemsoká
Béke a völgyben, s az Úr vár rám

Nincs tobb baj és szomorúság,
A fájdalom távol jár
Béke vár a völgybem rám
Örök béke, nemsoká

The President of the International Rescue Committee, with whom the American Hungarian Federation was working closely to raise funds to help resettle Hungarian refugees, also appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. Within 60 days, $2.5 million had been collected from the American public – $357,000 of it raised after the appearance by IRC president Cherne. AHF also held a fundraiser at Madison Square Garden where 10,000 people gathered to raise one million dollars for Hungarian relief.

A Soviet Soldier dead on the streets of a devasted BudapestRefugees admitted to the United States were flown to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey where 31,869 Hungarians were aided in resettlement. New Jersey tapped AHF President George Haydu as Civilian Director [In 1957, George Haydu was shot in the leg during New York's Loyalty Parade under suspicious circumstances]. AHF and 7 other resettlement agencies fulfilled legal requirements by acting as sponsors and helped to resettle the refugees in new homes and jobs.

Within 48 hours after their arrival, many of the newcomers were being welcomed by communities in all parts of the United States. Some 3,000 refugee college students enrolled in American universities and continued their education with the help of various scholarship programs such as those funded by AHF's Coordinated Hungarian Relief. The National Academy of Sciences placed 1,081 Hungarian scientists. Some of these refugees would go on to win Nobel Prizes, lead Intel Corporation, develop Microsoft Office, and design NASA's Moon Rover. Bryan Dawson, AHF Vice President, has collected many "Nobel Prize Winners and Famous Hungarians" as seen on [www.famoushungarians.com]

10/20/2006 - The American Hungarian Federation commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution at Washington, D.C.’s Cosmos Club and recognizes outstanding Hungarian Americans.Ever since, AHF and member organizations such as the 1956 Hungarian Freedom Fighters' Federation, have been working to ensure the bitter lessons and the 1956 Statue Prototype by Gyuri Hollosyheroes of the noble fight for freedom are not forgotten. 2006 marked the 50th Anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution. AHF worked with organizations nationwide to illuminate events using technology to improve coordination and cooperation, and helped raise over $200,000 for the New York's Memorial Committee and Carnegie Hall Celebration, ending the year with a Grand Gala in Washington, D.C. In 2007, AHF announced plans for a National Memorial in the Nation's Capital by renowned sculptor Gyuri Hollosy. These memorial plans were never realized due to lack of support.

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"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, on the first anniversary of the
Hungarian Revolution.


by Bryan Dawson

AHF 100 YEARS DISPLAY: AHF relief efforts during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution
AHF relief efforts during
the 1956 Hungarian Revolution
(Click image for a larger version)

Read More AHF History

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.

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. Get involved and help us continue our tradition of helping our community! Support Us!

Featured 1956 Video

Video of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution"Five Days of Freedom in Budapest" - "Budapest is in revolt. With uncontrolled fury, crowds set fire to Russian flags... The impossible has happened. A handful of heroes has shaken the communist world to its foundations." (5.2 Mb)

[See more photos, audio and video files] on AHF's 1956 Portal


  • See our 1956 Portal - www.hungary1956.com
  • The 1956 Institute, headed by Dr. Janos Reiner, is a great site devoted to exploring the 1956 Hungarian Revolution in English and Hungarian.
  • www.celebratingfreedom1956.org - The Cleveland Hungarian Revolution 50th Anniversary Committee (CHR50) organized a major observance event of this important historical milestone on October 21st and 22nd, 2006 in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Magyar Radio Online - includes many audio files and an analysis in Hungarian: "Ki húzta meg a ravaszt eloször 1956. október 23-án?" "Who was the Time Magazine's Man of the Year: The 1956 Freedom Fighterfirst to pull the trigger?"
  • Time Magazine gave Hungarian Freedom Fighters the title "Man of the Year" on July 1, 1957. "The Freedom Fighters filled the empty bottles with gasoline and corked them with table napkins, making what they called 'benzine flashes."
  • Wikipedia - the free, online encyclopedia that allows readers to manage its content!
  • The 1956 Institute in Hungary (1956-os Intézet)
  • The 1956 Hungarian Revolution Historical Documentation and Research Foundation in Hungary - a source for thousands of photographs from the period
  • The National Security Archive at The George Washington University provides a wealth of information on the 1956 Revolution available for download in PDF.
  • The 1956 Hungarian Revolution - a short chronology of events with pictures
  • Pal Maleter on Wikipedia - the military leader of the Hungarian Revolution
  • www.sulinet.hu has as site that transcribed many of the various speeches given before, during, and after the revolution - a fascinating chronology from Nagy to Mindszenty. (Hungarian)
  • Az 1956-os Magyar Forradalom igaz története - in Hungarian. "What the history books left out." Published by the 1956 World Federation.
  • Az 1956-os forradalom története Esztergomban - The Revolution in Esztergom (in Hungarian)
  • Arcok és sorsok - a great site with photos and biographies of some 1956 Freedom Fighters
  • Nagy Imre október 23-án: Nagy Imre október 23-án eleinte hallani sem akart arról, hogy a Parlamentbe menjen és szóljon a tömeghez. Ám mégis megtette. Döbbenetet érezhetett, amikor lenézett a Parlament ablakából, s akkor is, amikor kifütyülték az „elvtárs” megszólítást. Beszéde az alant álló ismeretlen erovel szembeni aggodalmát és szorongását mutatja.

In Memoriam

George Haydu's Memoir11/15/2005 - 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.
[read more about George Haydu]
or see [All Memorials]
Pongratz "Bajusz"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 more].
Szeredas12/10/2004 - 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]
The Kossuth sculpture was unveiled by the sculptor, Csaba Kur of Youngstown, OH10/21/2009 - AHF mourns the loss of another great Hungarian, sculptor, humanitarian. Csaba emigrated to the United States during the Hungarian revolution against Soviet occupation in 1956. His sculptures and monuments can be seen the worldwide. The American Hungarian Federation commisioned a bronze bust of Lajos Kossuth and presented it to U.S. Congress.To celebrate and commemorate the friendship and shared values between the people of the United States and those of Hungarian descent, AHF commissioned a bronze bust of Lajos Kossuth and offered it to U.S. Congress. The dedication ceremony took place on March 15, 1990, Hungarian National Day, under the magnificent dome of the Capitol Rotunda. The bust is one of only two honoring non-Americans in the Capitol. The base reads, "Louis Kossuth, Father of Hungarian Democracy." He was an AHF Board member and was the beloved husband of the late Marta (nee Ruzicska); dear father of Martha (James) Brooks of GA; grandfather of Noah and Adam Brooks; and brother of the late Zsuzsana.
Most szomorúan veszünk búcsút dr. Szilágyi Páltól, Miami magyar közössége, az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség, az 56-os Emlékbizottság vezeto személyiségétolPapp László -

“...pusztulunk, veszünk...”- idézzük egyre gyakrabban Tompa Mihályt, amint elbúcsúzunk azoktól, akikkel együtt jöttünk “...új hont keresni túl a tengeren”. Most szomorúan veszünk búcsút dr. Szilágyi Páltól, Miami magyar közössége, az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség, az 56-os Emlékbizottság vezeto személyiségétol. [more]


  • The Hungarian Revolution - Uprising, Budapest 1956: A synoptic treatise of a major political event of the 20th Century, a historically tragic period in the life of a nation commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Revolution and the fallen brave By: Attila J. Ürményházi (Hobart, Tasmania) and edited by
    Bryan Dawson-Szilágyi [download]
  • US Postal Service 1956 Petition

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,
on the first anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution.

  • Denver, Colorado - statue and "Hungarian Freedom Park"
  • Toronto, Ont - statue and park
  • Erie, PA - Memorial and square (Thanks to v. Juhasz Ferenc, AHF, VP)
  • Bridgeport - Statue
  • Fairfield, CT - Memorial plaque in Town Hall (2003)
  • Berkeley Springs, WV - plaque, cemetery, and church (TX to Mrs. 'Sally' Gyorik, Ft Vitez Baan OFP)
  • Boston, Mass - Liberty Square statue and square by George Hollosy
  • Los Angeles, CA - statue by Arpad Domjan (1966)
    (TX to Czene Ferenc and LA Hungarians)
  • New York - Plaque at East River/92d Str
  • Passaic, NJ - statue
  • Lorantffy House, Akron, Ohio 1956 - Plaque
  • North Olmstead , Ohio - Plaque and cemetery (Thanks to Dobolyi Arpad & Juhasz Ferenc AHF VP)
  • New Orleans, LA - plaque
  • Loraine, Ohio - Statue under construction
  • Miami, Fl - First Hungarian Church Stained Glass Windows
  • Camp Kilmer - plaque now in New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • Cleveland, Ohio - Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty statue and square
  • New Brunswick, NJ - Mindszenty statue and square
  • Miami - Mindszenty Str. (27th Str) NW (TX to Tarr Sandor, Honorary Consul)
  • Budapest - statue/plaque at the Chain bridge in Buda by Ocsay Karoly
  • Korvin koz - statue of the young freedom fighter
  • Eger - Memorial to 1956
  • Budapest, Prime Minister Imre Nagy Gravsite and Memorial
  • Budapest, Szena Ter
  • Budapest, II kerulet; Manheimer Statue
  • Budapest, XIII kerulet: Park of Statues: granite obelisk
  • Budapest, XIII kerulet: Park of Statues: Plaque of the martyrs (2000 Oct. 23)

Hungarian Freedom Park in Denver Colorado and its memorial to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution

The 1956 memorial in Toronto, Canada

Gyuri Hollosi's memorial to 1956 in Boston's Liberty Square







AHF's Lajos Bartucz at the Passaic NJ Memorial to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution

Stained Glass memorial to 1956 at Miami's First Hungarian Church of Christ

1956 Memorial in Eger, Hungary

The 1956 Hungarian Revolution Memorial at Szena Ter in Budapest



Albert CamusAlbert 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
to the memory of all our comrades who passed during those faithful days of October, 1956.

- Read this in German, Hungarian, French, and Spanish on this AHF member site, the [American Hungarian Museum]

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