THE HUNGARIAN REVOLUTION
Commemorating the 1956 Uprising
October 23 - November 26
The beginning of the end of the Communist Regime
In honor of all civilians that have ever given/lost their lives or gavely suffered for freedom everywhere.
Memoirs of a child "in exile".
What do the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, The overthrowing of Peron, Radio, Emigration and Working with Refugees for 25 years have in common?
At first glance, on the surface, it may appear that they have absolutely nothing in common, except that one way or another all four affected deep changes in my life.
As I entered the architecturally exquisite edifice of the Main Branch of the Vancouver Public Library, I was suddenly presented with life size vignettes of the Hungarian Revolution. My stomach spontaneously turned as I advanced further inside and noticed showcases full of memorabilia; documents, newspapers, pins, Communist Party registry forms, Youth Membership cards. Mannequins dressed in military uniforms on every floor surrounding the escalators…
Due to my unexpected reaction, at first I avoided a close-up look at all those drab-faded-yellowed-by-time items.
I had just survived the overthrowing of Argentinean President Juan Carlos Perón – Evita’s husband – while in my former boarding school in the Town of Plátanos, at the outskirts of the Province of Buenos Aires. Heavy bombing had gone on for a short while (three days?) we could clearly hear the unmistakable sound of falling bombs and the explosion upon impact in the nearby City of Quilmes – but it felt on top of my head. I was terrified, no one explained anything to us – those were the times! And, sleeping on the top half of a bunk bed gave an automatic death sentence in my child’s mind. I died again and again with the falling of each bomb.
The low cloud muffled sounds of aircraft engines still provoke unexpected nausea now- days.
Perón’s departure was swift, after his systematic emptying of the Treasury and various other treacheries; the country has been trying unsuccessfully to rebuild herself since.
By the time the Hungarian Revolution exploded I was already relocated to Montevideo, Uruguay – not much explanation about that either (oh, yeah… those were the times!), to live with my mother and her husband I did not remember at all and, a “new brother”. She had remarried, for the second time, another Hungarian.
I recall our lives were full of rallies and wreath laying in what now, seem to only have been gloomy, rainy days… Yes, I remember the upheaval of the local Hungarian community’s adult members, particularly that of my stepfather, whom, as I recall, was “everywhere” and somehow, so was I.
The meetings, the many and repeated showings of the latest black and white newsreels of the brutal massacre was a steady diet for others and myself (and 8-9 year old) at the time – death everywhere and everywhere heroism. Heroism of those man and women that sacrificed their lives for freedom. Heroism of the rebellious youth and their Molotov cocktails!
Unlike in the colorful, crisp footage at Tiannanmen Square, where we all witnessed on TV, a defiant and immensely brave student “stop” the tanks, the Hungarian black and white footage on large projection screens showed how the tanks rolled over those in their way… as the others were shot from their tops – chaos: Molotovs, high pitched sirens, automatic machine and other gun fire, flattened/crushed corpses literally covering the streets (many, with some sort of white (?) powder on them). Men hang from tress, beaten and being spat on.
Around me, people were all either stunned, unsettled, crying, outraged… God only knows what else! I don't rmember at all how I felt.
About the same time, I assume, I began reciting “occasion relevant” poetry on radio… A Hungarian Language program sprang up from nowhere in my life… I had to stand on a stool to reach the lone podium and microphone above it, in the solitary, yet safe, center of the heavily wood paneled sound booth.
It all went quiet smoothly, peacefully in there.
Before we tip-toed out, (still etched in my mind) I could clearly hear the next announcer: “Tates, Mames, Kinderlein…”
I'll return to this topic in the next 35 days with the rest of the story and some paintings I have planned to commemorate this occasion.