Set in the former headquarters of the secret police of both the Nazi regime and the Communists during the Soviet occupation, is Budapest´s ´House of Terror Museum´. Located at 60 AndrĂĄssy Avenue the building is hard to miss with the word ´Terror´ written in large letters in a black passepartout at the top of the building.
Hungary allied themselves with Hitler to save their Jewish population, but soon after was overtaken by the Nazi-affiliated Arrow Cross in the dying days of World War II. Arrow Cross members killed Jews in the streets and shot them into the freezing Danube River that runs through Budapest. Hundreds however, where executed in the basement of 60 AndrĂĄssy Avenue. When the communists took over Hungary, this building was again used as headquarters of their secret police (the ĂVO) and used to terrorize, detain, torture and execute individuals suspected of being an enemy of the state.
The museum tells the story of the the double-occupation of the Germans and the Soviets over five harrowing decades and the suffering, atrocities and deprivation that affected so many. Whilst makes for a grim way to spend a morning or afternoon is definitely worth the visit on your trip to Budapest.
As soon as you enter the muesum atrium, which rises three floors up, you are faced with a Soviet tank which appears menacing and overbearing in an enclosed space. The the surrounding walls are covered in black and white portraits of each of the victims who died in this building during the 50 years of the two occupations.
Each room has a theme, starting with the period prior to the first occupation when things were normal followed by the two separate occupation periods, detailing the crimes and atrocities that went on, not only atÂ 60 AndrĂĄssy AvenueÂ but across the entire country. The rooms use audio visual displays, excerpts from television broadcasts, radio shows, photos, propaganda posters and interviews from individuals and families who survived. With one in three families effected over the 50 years there are an insurmountable number of stories to be told and this museum does them justice.
Whilst most of the exhibit information is in Hungarian, most of the movies have English subtitles and each room has a information sheet in English that you can take and read as you walk around. The last section of the museum begins as you enter a elevator to the ex-prison basement. The elevator is programmed to descend slowly as video plays showing a guard explaining the execution process. During the 1950s the basement of this building was a witness to the horrendous torture of prisoners. Today the cells have been left as they were at the end of the soviet occupation areÂ chilling reminder of what happened there.
The final rooms could not be more opposite, one shows the festive atmosphere and the excitement surrounding the days in 1991 when the Soviets departed. The final room that you leave through however has a more somber atmosphere. The walls of room are lined with the names and photos of the “victimizers”, local communist members and supporters of the Arrow Cross and ĂVO, many of whom are still living, and who were never brought to justice.The House of Terror Museum is essential for anyone with an interest in the history of not only Hungary´s struggle for freedom but the whole ofÂ Eastern Europe.
For more information http://www.terrorhaza.hu/en/index_2.htmlÂ The museum is located at 60 AndrĂĄssy Avenue, 1062 Budapest. Full price adult admission is 2000 HUF.
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If you are traveling in Budapest, do not forget to visit the Ludwig Museum and its current exhibition “Unmistakable sentences”, which shows its collection from a renewed focus between arts and politics.
“Unmistakable Sentences”, is being exhibit at the Ludwig Museum until the 14th of August. This exhibition shows works of art focused on the troubled, complex and often ambiguous relation between politics and aesthetics. The subject is vast, ranging from individual cases to abstract reflections about the fate of social utopias, the operation of cultural memory and the artist´s role in maintaining a political speech.
The relation between arts and politics in Hungary became too radical because of the extensive censorship exercised by the political power of the former regime, which defined a very direct existential tendency of contemporary production, as well as putting a strong influence on how they later saw this period and the works of the time were shown.
It is clear that production was not independent from the international stage; many works were born from the dialogue with the international contemporary world of arts, or in explicit opposition to it. An important example of this can be seen in World War II, when abstract art was used as a means of political propaganda in the West, and the same happened in Hungary during the Socialist Realism, period in which the artists from this movement were encouraged to take a dissenting position.
In “Unmistakable sentences,” this issue is addressed through a selection of important works from the collection of the museum, instead of presenting the most relevant work of the time, it focuses on recent acquisitions, intending to show to a wider audience. Among these works, many of which are shown for the first time, include the works of the Hungarian artists TamĂĄs KaszĂĄs, ĂdĂĄm Kokesch, IstvĂĄn CsĂĄkĂĄn and Csaba Nemes and also very well known works of international artists such as Harun Farocki, Simon Starling, Zbigniew Libera, Mladen StilinoviÄ, Goran Trbuljak and BĂĄlint Szombathy.
An interesting aspect of this exhibition, curated by Katalin Timar, is the decision of not to exhibit the works following historical standards or chronological principles, instead of that the exhibition is displayed in an original way that allows us to highlight the thematic and formal aspects of its works. Some of these connections may seem very simple and trivial, but are very useful to give the viewer a different starting point and unprecedented to find new meanings in known works. In fact, “Unmistakable sentences” wants to avoid showing the works in the same old way that often hides deep relations among works that are not directly linked. For this reason, it invites the viewer to actively participate in the show free of existing structures.
Then, we recommend you to rent apartments in Budapest and get to know the local art from this amazing display.
Translated by: Hans