Andrassy u. 60
(061) 374 2600
Budapest is home to one of the most powerful museums in Europe. Illustrating the grim decades of Nazi and Communist repression, the museum is the former headquarters for the secret police of both the Nazi and Communist governments. The building’s awning has the word TERROR cut out of it, and when the sun projects through these letters, it symbolizes the terror which was projected onto the Hungarian people for fifty years. After allying themselves with Hitler to save their own skins (and their Jewish population), Hungary was overtaken by the Nazi-affiliated Arrow Cross in the waning days of World War II. Arrow Cross members did their best to exterminate Budapest’s Jews. They killed Jews one-by-one in the streets, and were known to tie several victims together, shoot one of them, and throw him into the freezing Danube — dragging the others in as well. They executed hundreds in the basement of this building. When the communists moved into Hungary, they took over the same building as headquarters of their secret police (the ÁVO, later renamed ÁVH). To keep dissension to a minimum, the secret police terrorized, tried, deported, or executed anyone suspected of being an enemy of the state. The museum’s atrium features a Soviet tank and a huge wall covered with portraits of the victims of this building. The modern, stylish, high-tech exhibit is designed for Hungarians, but the English audioguide (extra cost) gives tourists the same powerful experience. Each room is stocked with free English fliers. The museum has many memorable exhibits, such as rooms featuring Gulag life, Social Realism art and propaganda, a labyrinth of pork fat bricks reminding old timers of the harsh conditions of the 1950s (lard on bread for dinner), and religion (joining the Church was a way to express dissent). While following elderly Hungarians through the corridors, it was poignant to think they had personal memories of the terrors that came with Hungary’s “double occupation.” They knew many of the victims…and perpetrators. The last section begins with a three-minute video of a guard explaining the execution process played while you descend by elevator into the prison basement. In the 1950s this basement was the scene of torture. In 1956 it became a clubhouse of sorts for the local Communist youth club. It’s renovated today, circa 1955. During the 1956 revolution, 200,000 fled to Austria and the West during the two weeks of chaos before the USSR pulled a Tiananmen Square. The Hall of Tears remembers 25,000 who died in ’56. The last two rooms — with the only color video clips — show the festive and exhilarating days in 1991 when the Soviets departed, making way for freedom. Scenes include the reburial of local hero Imre Nagy; the pope’s visit; and walls of “victimizers” — local members and supporters of the Arrow Cross and ÁVO, many of whom are still living, and who were never brought to justice. This is the most expensive admission in Hungary, but it’s still cheap by Western standards and the experience is priceless for anyone with an affinity for Eastern Europe’s struggle for freedom. (From: ricksteves.com)
This prominent and from the outside, elegant building gave home to the torture chambers and interrogation rooms of the Soviet manipulated Hungarian Communists. Murdering and in all cases unjustly enprisoning innocent people simply for not submitting to the Communist dictatorship which ended in 1989. The Russians showed up as liberators from the Nazi Germans and stayed as the plague of Hungary. When you are visiting Budapest, this place is one you should not miss. Especially if you are a visiting Hungarian descendant of ones that were fortunate enough to escape. The exhibitions depict a glimpse of the horrible events which took place in Hungary. Hundreds of testimonial footage from survivors, jail cells and torture chambers display the Communist Terror which hung over the people. This monument stands as a reminder of the inhumanity that once ruled Hungary and a forever lasting image of a lesson well learned about Communism. Today you can visit the entire building, open to the public Tue-Fri 10-6pm, Sat-Sun 10-7″30pm. Access is as seen on the map below. The admission fee is 1,500 HUF for adults, students 1,100 HUF, with group discounts available. You may ask, well… why did Hungary join the Germans in WW II. ans: Simply to get back the Hungarian home lands occupied 100% by Hungarians, about 2/3 of Hungary prior to WW I. Taken from Hungary because of the Austrian Kaiser Wilheim who then had his own dictatorship over Hungary lost the war he initiated. Faith has just always put Hungary on the wrong side. (From: budapest.com)
A huge amount of money was obviously committed to this project. For example, after you pay for your ticket ($9, unless you are young or old) and walk past the guard, you are nose to nose with a huge tank sitting in a pool of water. The museum calls its building part of the memorial, “The building on Andrassy Boulevard 60 is itself the statue of terror, a monument to the victims.” I tend to agree and wish they would have left it alone. What they created however, is just short of an animatronic talking head. Indeed, this museum would not be out of place at Disney world. For all I have said, they did do a good job. Each room is different and offers a look at a unique period in the reign of the Communists and Nazis in Hungary. While most installations are extremely visual, most of the information is conveyed via written notes (available in English), films in Hungarian and wall text, in Hungarian. My favorite part of the experience (for those who have been to the Amsterdam Heineken Experience, this is not all that different), was the cross revealed under the floorboards and the cells in the basement (more information could have been offered though as to what happened down their to whom).