Carrying a Secret in My Heart: Children of Political Victims of the Revolution, 1956 Hungary: an Oral History

Carrying a Secret in My Heart: Children of Political Victims of the Revolution, 1956 Hungary: an Oral History

Carrying a Secret in My Heart: Children of Political Victims of the Revolution, 1956 Hungary: an Oral History

Carrying a Secret in My Heart: Children of Political Victims of the Revolution, 1956 Hungary: an Oral History

Synopsis

"The crushing of the 1956 revolution was followed by the most terrible campaign of political retaliation in modern Hungarian history. In the harsh reprisals, more than 20,000 were imprisoned and 229 executed by the regime and tens of thousands more were dismissed from their workplaces and put under police surveillance. This intimidation, and the attendant social and economic devastation that it wrought, bore especially hard on the psyches, upbringing and education, and hence the subsequent opportunities and life courses of the children who grew up within those families." "This book is based on interviews with the children of those imprisoned or executed for their involvement in the 1956 revolution. The reader learns about the patterns of communication within the families, changes in social status, how relatives and friends reacted, and what sorts of problems these children encountered in pursuing their studies, in trying to assimilate into society as adults, and in relating to those fathers who did return." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

In this volume we present the results of oral history research carried out under the title The Second Generation of 1956ers. In the course of our investigations we were looking for answers to the following questions: How were the fates of the children of those executed or imprisoned after the crushing of the 1956 Hungarian revolution affected? And how did the members of a generation that was punished for the revolutionary roles played by their parents grow up with the burden of their heritage? Through our exploration of their personal fates and their experiences in the public and private spheres we also gained valuable information about the micro-history and mentality of Hungarian society as a whole.

Documents found in archives that have been opened up since the change of political system in 1989 prove beyond doubt that the crushing of the revolution was followed by a campaign of political retaliation that surpassed anything that had happened in modern Hungarian history. János Kádár and his government, who were appointed by the Soviets in November 1956, had 229 people executed for their activities in 1956, including prime minister Imre Nagy, the leaders of several revolutionary organisations and workers’ councils, armed fighters, and several participants in the intellectual resistance. About twenty-two thousand people were sentenced, thirteen thousand were interned, and tens of thousands more were dismissed from their workplaces and put under police supervision. Following the general amnesty in 1963, the majority of those who had been imprisoned were released, but in many cases discrimination lasted for decades. The revenge, which, besides retaliation against the participants was intended to intimidate society, included the families of the convicts. Children grew up stigmatised and their whole lives were affected by the fact that, because their parents were regarded as enemies by the authorities, they too were being punished. This took place in an atmosphere in which, in order to legitimise the system, the central authorities aimed to control remembrance, forcing people to forget and to remain silent. Their goal was to force members of society to remember things in a particular way. They falsified facts and reinterpreted correlations in keeping with their own goals. They stigmatised the revolution as a counterrevolution and its participants as enemies of the people, murderers and criminals. They rewrote history, and as a result, personal history lost its validity at an official level. They wanted to erase memories that were unwelcome from . . .

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