Szabadság square to receive memorial obelisk to victims of Soviet occupation

February 7, 2017

By November, Szabadság (Freedom) square in Budapest will be home to memorials commemorating both the Soviet liberation and the Soviet occupation of Hungary. Plans have been approved by the Gulag Memorial Committee, chaired by Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog, to erect a 14-meter tall, black granite obelisk at the south end of Szabadság square at a cost of nearly HUF 500 million (USD 1.7 million).

The monument, which will commemorate the Hungarian victims of Soviet occupation between 1945 and 1991, was first proposed by Erzsébet Menczer (Fidesz), chairwoman of the Organization of Hungarian Former Soviet Political Prisoners and Forced Laborers. Current plans would place the monument at the corner of the square and Oktober 6 street, just in front of a highly controversial memorial to victims of the Nazi occupation of Hungary.

The addition of such a monument would contribute to the historical jumble already present on the square; a white granite obelisk, erected in 1946, celebrates the Soviet liberation of Hungary from Nazi Germany in 1945, and bears the hammer and sickle and a 5-pointed communist star. Nearby is a full-body bronze statue of former US president Ronald Reagan, remembered for his contribution to the fall of communism in Europe. The square also features a memorial to the victims of the German occupation of Hungary, which inspired its own makeshift counter-memorial criticizing Hungarian collaboration with Nazi Germany during World War II. Not far away is a bronze bust of controversial General Miklós Horthy, Hungary’s leader throughout the interwar period and World War II, who forged an alliance with Hitler’s Germany.