Thursday, November 15, 2012

Interesting fact

According to a recent program on Hungarian Echo Television, there are at least 1,024 Soviet memorials in Hungary today. This means that one-third of all settlements in the country (villages, towns and cities) have a Soviet war memorial in their jurisdiction. Many of these memorials are statues or monuments that are located in the centre of the settlement or in the main park.

Some of the memorials have the remains of Soviet soldiers buried underneath which makes it difficult for the local Hungarian authorities to move the them. According to an agreement with the Russian government, memorials with the remains of soldiers can't be moved. The Russian government in the past has put up fierce opposition to plans to move memorials or move the remains of their war dead.

The majority of these memorials were set up after the end of the Second World War to celebrate the "liberation" of Hungary. The Russian government does not contribute to the up keeping or the maintenance of the memorials. It is left up to the local Hungarian authorities to pay for the up keeping costs. This is an added cost for local municipalities that are already struggling to make ends meet and provide services for their inhabitants. A couple of municipalities in Hungary have recently moved the Soviet memorials away from the centre of their settlements. They had the remains of the Soviet soldiers reburied in a nearby military cemetery and the memorial moved there as well.

These memorials are a grim reminder of the four decades of Soviet and communist dictatorship that had existed in the country. A large number of Hungarians were greatly impacted by communism in the 20th century. Many had relatives and friends killed, imprisoned or tortured by the communist regime. These Soviet memorials really don't make anyone feel any better and are an eye sore on the Hungarian landscape. We can hope that one day a large number of the memorials or all of them are removed once and for all.