10/23/2012 - AHF Issues Statement on the 56th Anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution entitled, "The Hungarian 1956 Revolution and Freedom Fight: A Nation of Heroes." 1956 was not the first time in Hungary’s thousand year history that the Hungarian nation -- the people -- stood up for liberty, independence and democracy. One just needs to remember the Revolution of 1848 when Hungarians rose up against Hapsburg oppression and with Lajos Kossuth at the helm championed freedom and democracy. Or one can recall July 1944 when a Hungarian armored division blocked the deportation of more than 200,000 Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary. Or one can point to 1945 when despite Soviet occupation, Hungarians resoundingly rejected the Communist Party and elected the Smallholders Party.
Although unfamiliar with the details of [Hungary's] rich history and national character, a few today are quick to conclude (and have the international community believe) that the Hungarian people are less than committed to democracy when, in fact, Hungarians continue to be strong adherents of democratic values. As a member of NATO, Hungarians also continue to serve the cause of freedom, as they participate in the NATO-led ISAF and KFOR missions.
The Full Statement Appears below and available for [download]
The Hungarian 1956 Revolution and Freedom Fight:
The American Hungarian Federation, founded over 100 years ago and the oldest and largest umbrella Hungarian American organization in the United States, honors those whose enormous sacrifice seemed futile 56 years ago but that today 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.
Fifty-six years ago, Hungarians from all walks of life rose up against insurmountable odds to fight the brutal Soviet-installed Hungarian Communist government. Many died fighting, others were tortured and executed, while 200,000 were forced to flee their homeland.
We must never forget the heroes of 1956 – the students, the intellectuals, the workers, the farmers, indeed the cross-section of the entire Hungarian nation -- who were prepared to realize their dreams at great personal sacrifice. They fought and died for nothing that had not been promised them -- freedom, a multi-party democracy and independence from the Soviet Union.
Two of our great presidents, among many others who cherish freedom and the courage to struggle for it, remembered the Hungarian Revolution as follows:
1956 was not the first time in Hungary’s thousand year history that the Hungarian nation -- the people -- stood up for liberty, independence and democracy. One just needs to remember the Revolution of 1848 when Hungarians rose up against Hapsburg oppression and with Lajos Kossuth at the helm championed freedom and democracy. Or one can recall July 1944 when a Hungarian armored division blocked the deportation of more than 200,000 Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary. Or one can point to 1945 when despite Soviet occupation, Hungarians resoundingly rejected the Communist Party and elected the Smallholders Party. In elections held on November 4, 1945, that democratic party won 57 percent of the votes while the Communist Party won a mere 17 percent. Then in the August 31, 1947 elections, the Communists could still only garner 22.3 percent of the votes despite Soviet intervention, fraud and intimidation. Hungarians once again unequivocally came down on the side of democracy and fundamental freedoms. These were precursors for what would happen in 1956 when Hungarians at a tremendous cost demanded and fought for political rights denied them by a brutal quisling regime and its Soviet masters.
If one can characterize a nation, there can be no doubt that Hungarians not only give lip service to the vaunted principles of democracy and national independence, but also, as their history so eloquently and repeatedly demonstrates, sacrifice life and treasure to achieve them.
Although unfamiliar with the details of this rich history and national character, a few today are quick to conclude (and have the international community believe) that the Hungarian people are less than committed to democracy when, in fact, Hungarians continue to be strong adherents of democratic values. As a member of NATO, Hungarians also continue to serve the cause of freedom, as they participate in the NATO-led ISAF and KFOR missions.
„Magyarország elkötelezettje a demokratikus értékeknek” – '56-os ünnepségek az USA-ban: "...Az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség a történelem más eseményeivel kapcsolatban is bizonyítja a magyar nép töretlen szabadságvágyát. Példaként hozza az 1848-as forradalmat és szabadságharcot, azt az eseményt, amikor 1944-ben magyar páncélos ezred mentett meg kétszázezer zsidót a deportálástól a nácik által megszállt Magyarországon.
„Aki nem ismeri Magyarország gazdag történelmét, a nemzeti karaktert, arra az elhamarkodott következtetésre juthat – és képes a külföldi közvéleménnyel elhitetni –, hogy Magyarország ma nem igazán elkötelezett a demokrácia megőrzésében. Az igazság azonban az, hogy Magyarország továbbra is erős elkötelezettje a demokratikus értékeknek. A NATO tagjaként továbbra is szolgálja a szabadságot a NATO küldetések teljesítésében – írja Koszorús Ferenc, az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség elnöke." [tovább]
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! Read more / tovább
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]