Monday, April 30, 2012

"We're here to help them"

"We're here to help them". This quote is from the classic movie The Journey which is set against the events of the Hungarian revolution of 1956. It stars Jul Brynner and Deborah Kerr and was filmed in 1959, shortly after the revolution in 1956. Jul Brynner plays a Soviet major who takes a particular interest in one of the western travellers held up at the border (Deborah Kerr). The westerners are trying to flee Hungary as the revolution becomes full-blown. In this scene, Brynner tells Kerr that the Russian communists were in Hungary to "help" the Hungarians and "defend" them. This is a very ironic statement as the Russian communists did anything but help the Hungarian people.

The Russian communists remained in Hungary for about 40 years after the Second World War. They had liberated Hungary from German occupation. Immediately after the Second World War, 600,000 Hungarians were forcibly shipped off to the Soviet Union as prisoners to be used in manual labour. Many died in the transit on trains from Hungary to Siberia. Nearly half of the number were innocent civilians. Instead of leaving Hungary at the conclusion of the war, the Russian communists remained and installed a communist dictatorship in the country. Russian troops were also stationed in the country to keep Hungarians and their puppet governments in line.

Hungary had become a Soviet satellite state and joined the Warsaw Pact in 1955. Since 1949, Hungarian citizens lived under a repressive communist regimes that oppressed the people. Essentially, the communists in Hungary repressed the basic rights and freedoms of Hungarians. Imprisonment, tortured and execution were common practice by the communists, especially during the Mátyás Rákosi regime (1952-1953). The majority of the "dirty" work was done by the dreaded Hungarian secret police (AVO/State Security Agency). 

The Russian communists did anything but "help" Hungarians. They propped up and supported communist puppet governments after the Second World War. Many innocent Hungarians were either killed, imprisoned and tortured by the brutal communist regimes. In addition, the Hungarian economy was set back about 40 years when the democratic changes occurred in 1989. This was due to the archaic economic policies of the communist regimes. So basically, when a communist tells you that he wants to "help you", you'd better run as fast as you can!