10/19/2012 - Commemorating the 56th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, and Gov. George Pataki were guests of honor at the "56 at 56" Gala Dinner sponsored by the Embassy of Hungary in Washington, D.C. marking the 56th anniversary of Hungary 1956. Additional speakers included Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi and Hungarian-American two-time Gold Medal winner Susan (Zsuzsanna) Francia who won in rowing at both Beijing and London. Hungarian Ambassador Szapary welcomed guests and made a surprise announcement: The Hungarian Government will seed the building of the Victims of Communism museum to be located in Washington, DC with a $1 million dollar donation.
Anna Stumpf, Congressional Liaison and Political Attaché with the Embassy of Hungary, was the Master of Ceremonies. The gala event brought Hungarians and Americans together to "remember the Revolution and Freedom Fight of 1956 and celebrate 90 years of diplomatic relations between Hungary and the United States at the U.S. Institute of Peace – carrying a symbolic message of the joint commitment to peace and liberty as well as promoting democracy and human rights."
Hungarian Foreign Minister János Mártonyi opened the evening with a personal recollection of the uprising and the tremendous impact it had on him. The lesson of 1956, as he pointed out, was that we should preserve our optimism even for small and the remote events – for they might very well turn out to be history in the making.
Speakers reflected on the 1956 Hungarian Revolution impacted their lives. Former NY Governor George Pataki shared with us his small-town, up-state New York country roots where he shared his time with his immediate family and relatives. He noted how his father cried while watching, on his aunt's television, Soviet Troops crush the revolution: "I remember so clearly October of 1956 when the revolution started, all of us gathered in front of a flickering black and white television set….and I remember the incredible joy as we saw the flags with the hammer and sickle being cut out from the middle. I have never seen more joy in my family than during those days." He went on to question those who see the uprising as a failure citing the fact that Hungary was now free and that 1956 planted the seeds of freedom for the entire region.
Dr. Lee Edwards, President of the Victims of Communism Memorial Committee, thanked Hungary for its support and expressed his excitement that his dream of a bricks and mortar museum was coming true: "This is something that needs to be done, should be done, must be done, so that the wonderful stories and the messages that we have heard tonight can resonate here in Washington, DC and around the world,” he said. “I am so grateful to the people of Hungary and particularly to Viktor Orbán who is a true Hungarian freedom fighter.”
Former Secretary of Defense, Don Rumsfeld, a Navy pilot stationed in Europe at the time of the uprising, shared his impressions: “In my view, the Hungarian Freedom Fighter of 1956 remains an enduring symbol of man’s enduring desire to be free.” Congressman Diaz-Balart called Hungarians a "great people" for standing up to the evils of communism and expressed how the Cuban people and others worldwide are still suffering and waiting for freedom.
A special guest speaker was Susan (Zsuzsanna) Francia who is a two-time gold medal winner in rowing at both the Beijing and London Olympics and 5-time World Champion! Susan was born in Szeged, Hungary and moved to the US with her parents when she was 2 years old. She said: “I think it is so important that we never forget our roots and where we came from and who we are.” She added that “representing the U.S. as an athlete is nowhere close to the bravery and what it took for these men and women to stand up for their peace.” See Zsuzsa's [official site]. - Above photos courtesy of the Embassy of Hungary. More photos [here]
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sent special video messages in which they commended the Hungarian people for their courage to stand up against Soviet tyranny.
Special guests of the evening included:
Assistant Secretary Ms. Heidi Crebo-Rediker, Chief Economist at the State Department; Evelyn Farkas, Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Defense; Philip Reeker, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State at the Department of State; The State Department's Thomas Melia, Matthew Singer (Desk Officer for Hungary & Slovakia); the Ambassadors of Austria, Poland, Croatia, Serbia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Slovak Republic, Lithuania; H.E. Thomas Robertson, Former Ambassador to Slovenia; H.E. April Foley, Former Ambassador to Hungary; H.E. András Simonyi former Ambassador of Hungary to the United States and Managing Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Transatlantic Relations; H.E. Victor Ashe, Former U.S. Ambassador to Poland; Mr. Doug Rediker, member of the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund; Paula Dobriansky Former Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs; Annette Lantos, wife of the Late Congressman Tom Lantos; Edith Lauer, chairman emerita of the Hungarian American Coalition; Max Teleki, President of the Hungarian American Coalition; Ferenc (Frank) Koszorús, President of the American Hungarian Federation (AHF); John Lipsky, Former Senior Deputy Managing Director of the IMF; Hungarian Honorary Consuls from Chicago, Puerto Rico, Atlanta, and New Orleans; Károly Dán, Consul General of New York; László Kálmán, Consul General of Los Angeles; the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival Director James Deutsch; Skip Warner, General Electric's senior vice president (an event-sponsor); and friends of Hungary from the think tank and Hungarian American community. AHF was also represented by Executive Chairman Bryan Dawson, Co-President Zoltan Bagdy, and Paul Kamenar, member of AHF International Affairs Committee.
Guests who were seated at tables named after American cities with the larges Hungarian American population, like Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York and Toledo, left with a bottle of Tokaji wine presented by Tokaji Kereskedőház Zrt, typical Hungarian pogácsa prepared by the Embassy’s award-winning chef and an elegant souvenir notebook from Cinq Filles depicting fin-de-siècle Budapest. The next morning the Embassy hosted a "Hungarian Roundtable" meeting of Hungarian American leaders. Later that evening, the Hungarian Embassy sponsored a reception on Friday, October 19th. [See the Embassy Website for more photos and videos]
October 23, 2012 - AHF Honors the heroes of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, the first tear in the Iron Curtain. Hungarians from all walks of life rose up against insurmountable odds to fight the brutal Soviet installed Hungarian communist government. Thousands died fighting, others tortured and executed, while 200,000 were forced to flee. 2012 marked the 56th Anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution. [Read more] and see Photos and Videos on AHF's 1956 Portal
AHF's work regarding the tragic events nearly 50 years ago, dates back to the early days of the revolution and thereafter assisting tens of thousands of refugees. In 1956 the American Hungarian Federation activated the second Hungarian Relief program for the refugees of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, providing $512,560.00.With the support of the American Hungarian Federation, over 65,000 refugees arrived in the USA. Get involved and help us continue our tradition of helping our community! Join Us! [Read more] and see Photos and Videos on AHF's 1956 Portal
States that have passed the 1956 Revolution 50th Anniversary Resolution:
4/28/2006 - Texas became the first state to adopt the AHF 1956 resolution (House Resolution 75). AHF extends sincere thanks to Texas Senator Janek and Representative Woolley for introducing the measure and to AHF's Texas Chapter President Chris Cutrone in Austin and Honorary Consul for Hungary Phillip Aronoff in Houston for their efforts in securing the introuduction of the resolution. The resolution's title: "Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution and recognizing the sacrifices of Hungarian Freedom Fighters, the contributions of Hungarian Americans, and the friendship between the people and governments of the United States and Hungary." Full text of the Texas resolution can be found on the Texas House Website.
The Houston Chronicle also published an Op-Ed calling attention to the resolution by Hungarian Honorary Consul Phillip Aronoff in Houston and Bryan Dawson-Szilagyi, AHF Chairman of the Executive Committee.
Ohio. Special thanks to the Hon. Péter Ujvági, Ohio State Representative (D) who successfully pushed the resolution (#212) through both state houses. [download the resolution] Ohio Governor Taft also issues a proclamation [download]
- AHF President Emeritus, Entrepreneur, Freedom Activist,
and 1959 US "Citizen of the Year," George K. Haydu, passed away
after long illness. The death of this great humanitarian and
leader is a major loss for the Hungarian-American community and to all
his many friends. Despite many death threats and being shot in the leg
during "Loyalty Day" parade in New York City, George was undeterred
in his efforts to bring freedom to Hungary and comfort to refugees.
5/19/2005 - Gergely "Bajusz" Pongratz, a leader and hero of Hungary's anti-communist revolution of 1956, has died at age 73.
Pongratz suffered a heart attack on Wednesday in the southern
Hungarian town of Kiskunmajsa where he lived, said Dezso Abraham, secretary
general of the World Council of Hungarian 56ers revolutionary veterans
group. During the revolution, Pongratz was commander of one of the key
resistance groups fighting the Soviet army. [read
12/10/2004 - JENO SZEREDAS, 90, Hungarian Freedom Fighter Federation Founder, AHF Member, and Noted Artist Dies...
Jeno Andras Szeredas, Hungarian political activist and Senator, 1956 Freedom Fighter, Founder of the Freedom Fighters Federation in the United States, poet and artist of rare talent died quietly in his sleep at his daughter's home in Connecticut on November 30. He had just celebrated his 90th birthday.
Born in Iglo, Hungary (now Slovakia) in 1914, Mr. Szeredas was both witness to and active participant in the turmoil sweeping over Europe for the balance of the 20th century. [more]
Memorials Dedicated to 1956
"October 23, 1956, is a day that will live forever
in the annals of free men and nations. It was a day of courage, conscience
and triumph. No other day since history began has shown more clearly the
eternal unquenchability of man's desire to be free, whatever the odds
against success, whatever the sacrifice required."-
President John F. Kennedy,
Albert Camus' Stirring Letter to the World:
"The Blood of the Hungarians"
I am not one of those who wish to see the people of Hungary take up arms again in a rising certain to be crushed, under the eyes of the nations of the world, who would spare them neither applause nor pious tears, but who would go back at one to their slippers by the fireside like a football crowd on a Sunday evening after a cup final.
There are already too many dead on the field, and we cannot be generous with any but our own blood. The blood of Hungary has re-emerged too precious to Europe and to freedom for us not to be jealous of it to the last drop.
But I am not one of those who think that there can be a compromise, even one made with resignation, even provisional, with a regime of terror which has as much right to call itself socialist as the executioners of the Inquisition had to call themselves Christians.
And on this anniversary of liberty, I hope with all my heart that the silent resistance of the people of Hungary will endure, will grow stronger, and, reinforced by all the voices which we can raise on their behalf, will induce unanimous international opinion to boycott their oppressors.
And if world opinion is too feeble or egoistical to do justice to a martyred people, and if our voices also are too weak, I hope that Hungary’s resistance will endure until the counter-revolutionary State collapses everywhere in the East under the weight of its lies and contradictions.
Hungary conquered and in chains has done more for freedom and justice than any people for twenty years. But for this lesson to get through and convince those in the West who shut their eyes and ears, it was necessary, and it can be no comfort to us, for the people of Hungary to shed so much blood which is already drying in our memories.
In Europe’s isolation today, we have only one way of being true to Hungary, and that is never to betray, among ourselves and everywhere, what the Hungarian heroes died for, never to condone, among ourselves and everywhere, even indirectly, those who killed them.
It would indeed be difficult for us to be worthy of such sacrifices. But we can try to be so, in uniting Europe at last, in forgetting our quarrels, in correcting our own errors, in increasing our creativeness, and our solidarity. We have faith that there is on the march in the world, parallel with the forces of oppression and death which are darkening our history, a force of conviction and life, an immense movement of emancipation which is culture and which is born of freedom to create and of freedom to work.
Those Hungarian workers and intellectuals, beside whom we stand today with such impotent sorrow, understood this and have made us the better understand it. That is why, if their distress is ours, their hope is ours also. In spite of their misery, their chains, their exile, they have left us a glorious heritage which we must deserve: freedom, which they did not win, but which in one single day they gave back to us. (October 23, 1957)
AHF dedicates this work
- Read this in German, Hungarian, French, and Spanish on this AHF member site, the [American Hungarian Museum]