The Soviet Union and Communism are undeniable elements of Europe's and world's 20th-century history. By the 1990s, the Soviet Union fell apart, and the latter also faded with the time passing by. However, in the sharp memories of the elder layer of Hungarians, the vicissitudes of them are still very much alive. Although Hungary was not a part of the Soviet Union officially, my country was driven by the vast influence of the Soviets over long decades, dating from the end of the WWII. Being only 25 years old, I don’t really know, if its existence is supported by those who were affected, but there is an outdoor sculpture park in Budapest, where all the public artefacts can be found from the time of Budapest’s occupation. For me, it’s quite ambivalent, because, on the one hand, it can be demoralizing to see these messengers of the dark past of a country, but on the other hand, it can also be vital to keep the importance of freedom in mind. Anyway, I do recommend you to visit Memento Park, a real reminder of the Soviet occupation on the outskirts of Budapest.
The last Soviet soldiers left Hungary in 1991, even though the regime change was undergone between 1989 and 1990. The first case when someone publicly brought up the idea of removing all these statues, reminiscing about the dark past, was on 5 July 1989. Namely, it was certain László Szörényi, a former director at the Hungarian Scientific Academy’s Institute of Literature, who suggested to the city administration of Budapest to remove all the statues of Vladimir Lenin, a political theorist and founder of Russian Communist Party. His suggestion generated a widespread sympathy, both in the circles of officials and civilians, and eventually, all of these statues, that were supposed to reflect the ideology of Communism, were removed from the streets of the Hungarian capital.
All together, you can find 42 statues, which have been set up between ’45 and ’89 on the streets of Budapest, and there is also a Souvenir Shop in the area of Memento Park, where you can find different kinds of relics and souvenirs. Among others, you can purchase some watches, lighters, T-shirts, mugs and even more retro objects from the 50s, 60s and 70s. If you are a fond of history and a mysterious past engages your interest, I highly recommend to visit, since Memento Park is a real reminder of the Soviet occupation on the outskirts of Budapest. This open-air museum will surely get you goosebumps, while passing by the divisive monuments - as well as Heroes Square, which is far more beloved spot of Hungarians and tourists too.
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