“Who controls the present controls the past” – part many of many, many
March 25, 2017 Leave a comment
Something extraordinary happened yesterday. László Tüske, director of Hungary’s National Library, launched disciplinary action against János M. Rainer, head of the Institute for the History of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution (’56 Institute), and three of his colleagues. Two were charged with making their views public on the factually inaccurate billboards used to advertise the sixtieth anniversary extravaganza staged by Viktor Orbán’s court historian, Mária Schmidt. This was the by now infamous case in which a fourteen-year-old boy who was one of the “pesti srácok” (urchins of Pest) was misidentified. A third was charged with complaining about photoshopped images used in the anniversary celebration. The fourth was charged with behaving improperly during Viktor Orbán’s speech on October 23.
The rest of the story is at http://hungarianspectrum.org/2017/03/24/the-dangers-of-being-a-historian-in-orbans-hungary/ The blog post is written by someone who was 16 at the time of the Revolution, and lived through the events in Budapest.
Briefly, Viktor Orban, who along with his compatriots has a view of the Hungarian Revolution that is very much at odds with historians inside and outside Hungary, looked to shut down the ’56 Institute when he came to power but failed… instead, individual members are being punished professionally for pointing out the difference between facts and invented facts (including a real live “Lieutenant Ogilvy” created through a deliberate misidentification of another person), alteration of images of the past, and disrespectful personal gestures… in short, for doing their jobs as historians, or as citizens.
Again, as happened with the WW II museum in Poland (“Who controls the present controls the past.”), the question must be asked… who gets to remember, and how?