1956 Hungarian Revolution

1450342_189489767909825_648408635_nWe were in our early teens when this event happened.  We remember discussing it with our parents and seeing articles about it in the newspapers.  When my husband was in graduate school at University of California at Davis, he had a friend who had participated in this event and escaped Hungary.  He eventually made it to America and received his PhD at the same time as my husband.  Both our families ended up in the Washington, DC area with government jobs.  At first we tried to keep in contact, but with family pressures, church pressures, commuting pressures, we eventually lost contact with our Hungarian friend and his family.

About 6 months before our mission call, when we were still filling out Church forms, I had the distinct impression that I needed to see if we could reestablish contact with our friends.  Through Facebook, they were found.

A few months later, when we told them about our mission call, the husband said, Why on earth would your Church send you to Hungary? He felt they had rejected Democracy for Socialism, rejected God, rejected marriage, rejected having children, etc.  You can tell he was upset with his country of birth.   I replied, There are good people everywhere and we are to help them find the Lord!  Over the past two years, I have seen his interest return to his native county.  For instance, he has been studying and sharing with me that scholars have been using the original Hungarian script, called runes, to help decipher the ancient language, Sumerian. Magyar is obviously a very ancient language. There are many brilliant Hungarians (Rubik’s Cube) – too many to mention.  In fact, they have developed a system of teaching music to children that was used by the Children’s Choir of Maryland and also BYU has music professors coming over to learn this system.

If you do not know much about this “Revolution” I would suggest that you read a little book by James Mitchner, called The Bridge at Andau.

booksAs the used High School edition that we bought states, “The heroic story of the revolt by the Hungarian people that made crystal clear to the world the true face of communism.” More than 20,000 people crossed that bridge during a few weeks in 1956.   Michener happened to be in Austria at the time of this revolution.  He made his way to the border and started interviewing Hungarians.  He could not believe what they were telling him, so he kept interviewing more and more people.  Finally he realized that all the stories were the same, therefore, it must be the truth.  Note:  Parts of the book are a hard read!

1956_hungarian_revolution_tank_russiansgohomeAs in the case of many “uprisings” the youth of Hungary were very much involved!

In Budapest there is a museum dedicated to telling the true story of what happened during the communist and Nazi rule of Hungary.  It is called the Terror Haza – House of Terror.  Wikipedia:  “It contains exhibits related to the fascist and communist dictatorial regimes in 20th-century Hungary and is also a memorial to the victims of these regimes, including those detained, interrogated, tortured or killed in the building.  With regard to communism and fascism, the exhibition contains material on the nation’s relationships to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. It also contains exhibits related to Hungarian organizations such as the fascist Arrow Cross Party and the communist ÁVH (which was similar to the Soviet Union KGB secret police). Part of the exhibition takes visitors to the basement, where they can see examples of the cells that the ÁVH used to break the will of their prisoners.”  (Picture below from Wikipedia)

House_of_Terror_in_BudapestOn Oct 23, 2013 we went downtown to the Terror Haz and this display was outside.  The panels told the stories of many of the victims of those days.  The bronze footprints on the sidewalk were also another way they remembered victims.

IMG_2432When the Nazi’s came to Hungary, it is unfortunate that a group of Hungarians were very anti-Jewish and they saw their opportunity to have power.  The Nazi’s did not have to have many of their troops in the country because those Hungarians did their bidding so easily.

Shoes_Danube_Promenade_IMGP1297The Shoes on the Danube (Wikipedia) – A memorial “to honor the Jews who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during World War II.”  Jews were forced to remove their valuable shoes and then were taken to a low bridge that crossed the Danube about here, chained to each other.  Then the first one was shot, dragging the rest into the Danube to be drowned.  The shoes here are bronzed.  The low bridge was destroyed during WWII and not replaced.

When the Russians came to Hungary, the Hungarians at first thought they would be their saviors.  They quickly learned that one evil system of government was replaced with another.  The Communists ruled 40 years in Hungary.

2The Communist had a logo which they inserted into the middle of the Hungarian flag.  After becoming free from Soviet domination in1989, Hungarians celebrate October 23 annually and many fly the Hungarian flag with the hole in the middle, to symbolize the removal of the Soviet logo.  It is a very big holiday and there are no shops open on that day!  It is also a day where if the citizens are angry about anything, they have street meetings and demonstrations.  Missionaries are to be no where near any mass meetings and demonstrations.

It was interesting as we traveled to many places around Budapest and would see what were obvious bullet holes in the facades of buildings.  One was in a building across the street from Mamut Mall.  I am sorry that I did not take pictures, as the building facade was completely refinished just before we left.

IMG_3611(Picture taken from a blog, The Odyssey: Budapest)  This building in the Buda Castle District has been renovated since this picture – but they left the bullet holes!)

Hungary is not the only country to have had similar events occur during their Nazi and communist rule, but it was the country that we were in.  Adri, our YSA President, had great grandparents who were executed during the communist rule.  The great grandparents lived in the countryside and were told they could not use their animals for food.  When they were starving, they disobeyed and killed a pig to eat.  When the authorities found out about it, they took both parents outside and shot them.

When we visited Kiev, we toured a museum there that told the same story.  Also we heard and read about the Halodomor.  Wikipedia:  “The Holodomor (Ukrainian: Голодомор, “Extermination by hunger” or “Hunger-extermination”;[2] derived from ‘морити голодом’, “to kill by starvation” [3][4][5]) was a famine in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1932 and 1933 that killed estimated 2.5-7.5 million Ukrainians. During the famine, which is also known as the “Terror-Famine in Ukraine” and “Famine-Genocide in Ukraine”,[6][7][8] millions of citizens of the Ukrainian SSR, the majority of whom were Ukrainians, died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of Ukraine.[9] Since 2006, the Holodomor has been recognized by the independent Ukraine and many other countries as a genocide of the Ukrainian people by Soviet Union ruled by Stalin.

Newspaper in 1956….  They were expecting Americans and other countries to help them; but we did not…

nyh-11051956“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

George Santayana

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Final Goodbyes

I need to complete this blog.  We have been home 5 months!  I have a new computer and all my pictures are on this old and failing one!  (I have them saved to an external hard drive, but it is easier to work with them on the computer..)

Our last day working with the YSA was Friday, June 7, 2014.  Since it was a Friday, we decided that it should be our Farewell Party!  Sisters Bagozzi and Smith helped greatly to get the food prepared and served.  Both the Bagozzis and Sister Smith helped serve – as we were greeting and talking to everyone.  Several other members of the Church were there, too.

Brother Balatoni, a member of the Mission Presidency and a member of our Pest Ward.

IMG_8696Tibor N., a single adult over 31 but we became very close to him.  He was in charge of technology and so was frequently taking care of the YSA computers.  Also in our Pest Ward.

IMG_8707Panni and Kriszti.  Panni (far left) is YSA age and Kriszti is over 31.  We love them dearly and keep in contact with them still and will as long as we can!  Both are in Kispest Ward.

IMG_8709Viki is a darling girl.  Her mother recently became reactivated and brought her daughter to our meetings.  She is extremely shy and I am not sure she has attended YSA since we left.  She was upset at our leaving… She brought us some roses.. She did not speak much English so that did not make communication easy.

IMG_8713Here is Viki’s mother!

IMG_8746Gergö is a inactive member of our Church.  He is a very interesting kid.  He got trained as a plumber but did not like the language and characteristics of the people he associated with in that profession, so he decided to get trained in accounting.  He speaks English fairly well.  The Church could use his abilities, if he decided to be more committed to his faith.  Lives in the Pest Ward.

IMG_8715“Sonny” was an Institute Teacher for several classes in the past two years.  His wife recently got baptized, so he was very excited about that.  Very outgoing person, works with NuSkin and seems to be fairly successful in that business.  A member of the Buda Ward.  Eszter H. is on the far right.  She is engaged to marry a Hungarian returned missionary.  That happened since we have left!

IMG_8716Taci H and Láci T.  Taci is an American who served a mission in Hungary and returned to Hungary to attend college.  She is majoring in Biology.  (RMs quite often return to their mission fields to visit and for other reasons!!)  Láci has a baptism date for Jan 2015.  Very sweet young man.  We have kept in touch with both of these YSA since leaving!  Láci lives in the Kispest Ward.  Taci attends the Buda Ward.

IMG_8720Zoli T and his wife, whom he recently married.  He is also an Institute teacher.  She joined the Church this spring and Zoli baptized her.  They live in Buda Ward.

IMG_8752Bishop Southwick and his family. He was Bishop of the Buda Ward, which met in the Mission Home.  Same building as our YSA office.  He served a mission to Hungary and came back and married a Hungarian woman.  He received his Hungarian citizenship a couple of months ago and was just made the Stake President in Hungary.  (They only have one Stake for the time being – but are trying to get enough members to have a second Stake.)  He is the second Stake President the country has had in 20 years.

IMG_8762Here is Szandi B a girl from Pest Ward.  She has not attended many YSA events.  But she obviously wanted to say goodbye to us…

IMG_8765Bernadett  K, the (former) Stake President’s daughter.  She has two years left of HS.  She is in a very demanding course – Russian, German, English and Biology!  College bound Hungarian students usually do not graduate from HS until they are 20.  She attended YSA infrequently, due to her rigorous school schedule and outside activities.  Her family are members of the Buda Ward and we really enjoyed working with her father.

IMG_8769The Mission President allowed some missionaries to attend.  We had a few non-members in attendance and we worked with many of the missionaries in our calling.  Elder Squire (far right) came home with a group of returning missionaries in time for Thanksgiving 2014.

IMG_8773Adri was all smiles early in the evening.  However, when it came time to really say goodbye we were all sobbing!  We worked with her when she was YSA President, 5 days a week!  And she was the most faithful supporter of everything… Member of Kispest Ward.

IMG_8783Here is Szandi, Feri and his brother, Láci.  Láci could speak a little English.  Szondi and Feri only knew a few words of English.  And we knew a little Hungarian grammar, very small vocabulary and some memorized phrases!  That was one of the most frustrating parts of our mission – not being able to communicate with the youth that we were supposed to be serving!  Szandi and Feri are members of the Pest Ward and Láci attends the Érd Branch.

IMG_8785Lavinia (Livi) is so sweet and loving!  Pure in heart…  She came to everything – much better than being home, I believe.  She would love a job and took some training course; but none of the youth who were in the course were offered a full time job.  She will be over 31 soon, so she will be out of the group.  Attends the Buda Ward.

IMG_8790Karolina is the Stake Patriarch’s daughter and a very lovely person. She turned 31 this past year, so has not been coming to many of our activities.  She is getting her masters in translating.  She speaks German, Hungarian and English fluently and maybe more?  Member of the Pest Ward.

IMG_8793The Heaths were the Assistant Area Auditors and traveled to other countries to help members with the financial dealings in their wards and branches.  They returned home in July 2014.

IMG_8799Andras is about 35 and loved to come to our meetings.  He is a RM and has yet to find his eternal mate!  He recently found a better job and that is always good!  Member of the Pest Ward.

IMG_8801Gabor was baptized last spring and really jumped into the Pest Ward and did what ever was asked of him.  He is older than 31 so he only attended a few of our special events.  We will keep close tabs on what he is up to.

IMG_8804Viki is currently the YSA President as well as the LDS Public Relations Director for the whole country of Hungary.  Her degree is in movie production (or something like that), and she also has a full time job in that field.  She turns 31 this year, so they will have to replace her one of these days – but she is really a dynamo – spiritually as well as otherwise.  Recently released as the YW President in the Pest Ward.IMG_8806Láci has not been baptized yet.  He attends the Pest Ward.  Attends our YSA functions now and then.  Works in a brewery.

IMG_8811More missionaries.  There are 5 sets of young proselyting missionaries in the Buda Ward boundaries, including the Assistants to the President.  Plus the office missionaries (which do some proselyting).

IMG_8812Here is Támas!  He went through several different missionaries in his year long quest before joining the Church.  We hope the Church can help him in his growth and development.  His mother is not supportive of his Church membership..

IMG_8821Brother Bagozzi and Adri.  This is the Bagozzis second mission as office couple here in Hungary.  They worked pretty closely with the YSA when they were here before, so the kids know and love them a lot!!!

IMG_8823Péter N, also a member of the Pest Ward.  Bore his testimony the first time he ever came to Church.  Parents not excited about him joining the Church (but we were!).  Darling person and he is in training to be an EMT.  He and Elder F talked in length every Sunday, so he was very upset at our leaving!  He has been learning English pretty well.

IMG_8826Here are the famous Bagozzi couple!  They have been fun to get to know and will leave their mission shortly after the new Mission President arrives, in July 2015.  The office couple are pretty important and keep everything in the whole mission running smoothly!

IMG_8830Norbi had to work Friday evening and came late.  He works at an LDS owned restaurant, Gringo Amigos.  He is Timi’s brother and he is very artistic, but could not find a job in his field.  Norbi and Timi are members of the Buda Ward.

IMG_8843Here is most who came to say goodbye to us!

IMG_8726Dia, Viki’s good friend, and not a baptized member, YET, made up this book with many of the pictures of our activities and they presented this to us this night.  It is a wonderful memento of our mission.  It sits on our coffee table in our living room…

IMG_8850I will add a few miscellaneous posts in the future… so this is not the last posting – YET!