Poznan – Budapest 1956

The inspiration for Hungarian freedom fighters battle with the Soviets in Budapest in 1956 came from Poland.

Michal Kubicki reports

No other nation but Poles feels more strongly about the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution. This is not surprising in view of the fact that five decades ago Poland was also the scene of demonstrations in support of democratic changes and that the inspiration for Hungarian freedom fighters came from Poland.

Polish president Lech Kaczyński and speakers of both houses of Parliament are in Budapest for the official commemorations of the Hungarian uprising against the Soviet domination.

According to Lower House speaker Marek Jurek, the memory of 1956 is very important in Polish-Hungarian relations.

‘The Hungarian people have fond memories of the solidarity which Poles demonstrated in 1956, the donations of blood, supplies of material aid and so on. All this shows that it’s good to be guided by supreme moral values politics. It’s like investing in the future’.

Numerous groups representing various institutions, NGOs and individual towns are also in the Hungarian capital. A Polish nurse Aleksandra Banasiak, who took part in the workers’ revolt in Poznan in June 1956, is in Budapest with her city’s delegation.

‘We were given an incredibly warm welcome when we arrived at the monument to General Jozef Bem. We had a banner saying ‘Poznan-Budapest 1956’ and the Polish national flag. It was all very moving.’

The National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra is billed in Budapest tomorrow with a programme which highlights solidarity between the two nations. It includes Witold Lutosławski’s Funeral Music which was the composer’s tribute to Bela Bartok and Hungary, and Artur Malawski’s Hungaria 1956.

Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa is the Polish Radio Orchestra’s managing director.

‘We’re delighted to be able to participate in the events in tribute to the Hungarian Revolution. Poles have always been friends of Hungarians. The Polish people sympathized with them in 1956, a time when Poland also went through some dramatic events, though not so tragic as in Hungary’.

Events here in Poland have included academic conferences, concerts, and exhibitions. One of the main themes was the common experience of Poland and Hungary in 1956. According to historian Wojciech Roszkowski, Poland was fortunate to avoid a bloody outcome of the crisis.

‘1956 in Poland turned out to be a rather soft solution of the crisis. Gomułka emerged as a man of providence, easing the tensions; he was accepted by Moscow and many Poles believed in his October programme. This made an impression that the same would be possible in Hungary but it was not because in Hungary the hardliners were still in control and when the crowds started gathering the shooting in the street started before any middle-of-the-road solution could be worked out. So when Imre Nagy took control of the government it was too late to present any soft solution.’

In a resolution adopted earlier this month, the Polish Parliament paid tribute to the participants and victims of the Hungarian Revolution. Polish MPs described it as an attempt to overthrow the totalitarian regime and liberate the country from under Soviet domination.

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