1956-2015: Congressional Reception
10/22/2015 - AHF organizes Congressional Reception with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in honor of 59th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution... On October 22 the American Hungarian Federation (“AHF”) sponsored a reception on Capitol Hill commemorating the 59th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight. It also honored Helsinki Commission Chair Rep. Chris Smith and Representative Dan Lipinski with its Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom, awarded to outstanding individuals to recognize their life's achievements, dedication to freedom and democracy, promotion of transatlantic relations, and meritorious contribution to society.
In opening remarks, Dr. Louis Segesvary of AHF, noted that “nearly six decades had passed since the small Central European nation of Hungary rose up in a revolution against the Soviet Union that represented the first major challenge to its military dominion since World War II. Yet it would be a mistake to discount the significance of this revolution merely because of the passage of time, Dr. Segesvary explained. This was David facing down Goliath in the modern era, and as such it remains and will remain an inspiration to freedom loving people everywhere. For the sheer courage displayed by the freedom fighters in this uprising against the most hopeless of odds not only stunned the world but inspired it, and led eventually to a crescendo of falling dominos and the dissolution of the entire Soviet Union itself.
The seven days of freedom Hungarians had achieved in 1956 meant that Goliath had been mortally wounded, his aura of invincibility shattered. It was just a matter of time before he collapsed into the dust once again just as in biblical times.” Rep. Smith entered AHF's statement in the Congressional Record. Almost 60 years after the Hungarian Revolution, and more than 25 years after the regime change, it is more important than ever for Hungarians and Americans alike to remember that communism was not a beautiful utopia,” said Marion Smith, Executive Director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation,which co-hosted the program.“It was and is an ideology that enables tyranny. Communist regimes everywhere systematically killed a portion of their own people as a matter of policy in peacetime, denied citizens their basic rights, robbed them of their food and of their labor, and tore families apart in maintaining a police state.”
AHF’s National President Frank Koszorus, Jr. related that the organization established the Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom to honor outstanding individuals and recognize their life's achievements, dedication to freedom and democracy, promotion of transatlantic relations, and meritorious contribution to society. Inscribed on the medal is AHF's Motto, “Fidelissimus ad Mortem" or "Faithful Unto Death”
representing Hungarian Americans’ historical commitment to the United States. The motto was taken from a letter written by Hungarian Hussar Officer Michael Kováts to Benjamin Franklin, offering his sword in service to Americans’ noble cause of freedom. It reflects AHF’s values, the historical and inextricable ties between Hungarians and Americans and symbolizes Hungarians’ contributions and sacrifices to America’s beginning.
On May 11, 1779, Colonel Kovats, known as the Founding Father of US light Cavalry, gave his life in the American War for Independence while leading the Continental Army cavalry he had trained in Hungarian hussar tactics against a British siege of Charleston. The British remarked that Kovats' forces were "the best cavalry the rebels ever had.”
Mr. Koszorus then introduced Rep. Smith and noted in presenting the Kovats Award, that the Representative “is a strong supporter of good bi-lateral relations with Hungary recognizing US strategic interests in maintaining good ties with that country. As his record demonstrates he steadfastly promotes human rights and democracy. He has traveled to Budapest to better gauge what is happening on the ground and to better understand that country, its people, its hopes and fears and accomplishments over the centuries.”
“I am delighted to have received the Kovats award, which represents the long-standing commitment of Hungarian Americans to the United States and is a testament to the special ties between our two nations,” said Rep. Smith. “Colonel Kovats gave his life for the cause of freedom during the American Revolution, and truly embodied the courage and patriotism of the Hungarian people. This courage was reflected during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution against the Soviet-installed communist dictatorship, which remains a model of patriotism, heroism and resistance against tyranny.”
AHF’s Chairman of the Board Akos Nagy presented the Kovats Medal to Rep. Dan Lipinski for his work to strengthen U.S. relations with Central & Eastern Europe and for his friendship toward Hungary. Mr. Nagy noted Rep. Lipinski’s efforts to promote and protect democracy in the region, as these countries are still rebuilding their political and economic systems after suffering the ravages of Communist dictatorships for over 40 years. Also attending the event were Hungarian Ambassador Réka Szemerkényi, Rep. Mario Diaz- Balart, and Rep. Dennis Ross.
AHF was founded in 1906. It is the largest Hungarian-American umbrella organization in the United States and among the oldest ethnic organizations in the country.
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. 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!
AHF is proud to Support VOC. AHF issued this statement as part of the VOC Gala Brochure. The text reads:
"The American Hungarian Federation honors all Victims of Communism and those who have given the ultimate Sacrifice for Freedom.
Hungary's first experience with Communism followed the chaos at the end of World War I when a brutal but short-lived "dictatorship of the proletariat" seized power between March and August 1919. Communism would later be imposed on Hungary by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II, but not before Hungarians rejected the Communist Party in the 1945 elections when the Smallholders won an absolute majority of the votes despite the presence of the Soviet army.
In 1956 the entire nation rose up and, defying impossible odds, revolted against communist and Soviet tyranny. Although harsh reprisals and suffering followed the crushing of the Revolution, the sacrifice of Hungarians in 1956 helped lay the groundwork for the eventual collapse of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe. There were other victims...
Hungarians living in successor states neighboring Hungary lived not only as an oppressed people, but also as a minority subjected to all forms of discrimination and forcible assimilation. Despite the great strides toward freedom and democracy, the region's spiritual, moral and economic decay in the wake of decades of Communism imposed by Moscow, is still evident and cannot be ignored. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation ensures that we not forget the suffering and the lessons of a terrible period in the history of mankind.
The American Hungarian Federation (AHF), founded in 1906 in Cleveland, Ohio, is the oldest and largest Hungarian American national umbrella organization in the United States. AHF represents the interests of its member organizations and a broad cross-section of the Hungarian-American community. Among its purposes is to promote democratic values, monitor human and minority rights, and support strong relations between the people of Hungary and the United States."
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!
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]
6/12/2007 - The Victims of Communism Memorial was dedicated by President George W. Bush in a morning ceremony on Tuesday, June 12th. Washington's newest memorial honors the 100 million people who have been killed by communist totalitarian regimes worldwide. AHF is proud to have contributed to this noble effort and congratulates Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation chairman Lee Edwards on the realization of his dream. [read more]
6/16/2009 - The Victims of Communism (VOC) Memorial Foundation awards the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom to Hungarian human rights activist Bishop Laszlo Tokes. Bishop Tokes, an ethnic Hungarian, played an important role in the Romanian Revolution of 1989 that toppled Romania's communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu. [read more]
6/12/2008 - Victims of Communism Memorial 1st Anniversary... Former California Congressman Tom Lantos was awarded the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom (posthumously) during the ceremony. The ceremony marked the first anniversary of the dedication of the memorial. AHF is proud to support the foundation. AHF's October 2007 Congressional Reception in honor of its 100th anniversary began with a wreath laying at the memorial.
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].
October 23, 2012 - AHF Honors the heroes of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, 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. 2012 marked the 56th Anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution. [Read more] and see Photos and Videos on AHF's 1956 Portal
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! [Read more] and see Photos and Videos on AHF's 1956 Portal
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]