Hungary is a beautiful country but has a tragic history that has seen the country carved up and its citizens displaced. After getting rid of the Russians in the 90s, they finally had an independent and free democratic Hungary.
Prime Minister Victor Orban, often portrayed by media as a fanatic, is anything but.
A good friend of mine, a firefighter, asked me one day, “You know the second-largest reasons forest fires spread beside the wind?” Speechless, I said, “No idea.”. He replied, “Animals on fire running through the forest.”
Most modern news media are animals on fire.
If you take the time to do your research, you’ll see he’s very much a centrist and with an eye towards the future. His party just supported the nomination of the first woman President.
Back to my visit to Budapest…
I wanted to share a bit of Hungary’s history with SOFREP readers, as seen through my trip to the House of Terror Memorial Museum.
Once larger than Italy and England, the First World War stripped Hungary of two-thirds of its territories after. This isolated the country politically and left Hungary as one of Central Europe’s weakest states. Similar to Poland in the 30s, Hungary found itself like a piece of raw meat being chewed apart by angry dogs of Russia and Germany.
The country fought for independence with the outbreak of World War II but eventually saw itself bullied into taking sides with the Germans after several high-level leaders and family members were kidnapped by the Nazis. Shortly after Hungarian troops were sent to the brutal and cold Eastern Front, not many survived the harsh conditions. In addition to this, almost half a million Jewish Hungarians were rounded up and sent to Nazi death camps. Few would ever be seen again.
The museum is staged in the old era of the Soviet-occupied secret police headquarters. The top floors were reserved for high-ranking staff, and accommodations were quite nice. Go a few floors down, and you have torture rooms. Down at the basement level, you have the cramped, cold, dark prison cells and no good options.
The sewage smell was unmistakable, and I felt like I was standing in an ice-cold portable toilet that needed emptying. My nostrils were filled with the dank stench of piss and sh*t. I could only imagine the screaming terrors that existed on the prison level, which included several execution and torture rooms.
Here are some photos I’ve taken in the House of Terror Memorial Museum:
This forced standing prison cell reminded me of my own prison camp experience I shared in my book, The Red Circle.
In August 1944, Hungary became the center stage for a clash between Germany and Russia. Post-war, the Soviets would continue occupying Hungary and installing their own puppet regime after the brutal German occupation.
Hungary would suffer greatly under Soviet occupation, many were forced into labor camps (Gulags), and the secret police would listen and find neighbors reporting neighbors.
In 1956, the death of Stalin created a power struggle in Russia that emboldened Hungarians to revolt seeking independence. In October, a student-led demonstration was crushed by security forces opening fire into crowds of unarmed protestors, which led to an open revolution in the country.
Although this led to a cease-fire and some reforms, the Soviets largely controlled Hungary’s fate through Russian “advisors” and another puppet regime until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, which led to a free Hungary. During this time, thousands were tried, some put to death, as young as 15 and 16 years of age, for anti-government activity.
Today Hungary is a beautiful free country well aware of the barb wire handcuffs of Communism.
If you have a chance to visit Budapest and the House of Terror Memorial Museum, please do. It’s an incredible city.