Double occupation

The room displays the two successive foreign occupations of Hungary. One part of the monitor-wall depicts the genocidal Nazi régime: Hitler and the jubilant crowds, as well as the horrifying photographs of Bergen-Belsen, while on the other side we can see the Red Army, the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and military parades along Red Square. There are some shots of the Hungarian Army's participation in the war against the Soviet Union, as well as of the siege of Budapest. The pictures on the walls of the hall portray the devastation caused by the war in Hungary. The four interconnected plasma monitors let us follow the transformation of Central Europe from the First World War to the end of World War II.

“Last night I dreamt that the Germans had left and no one came in to replace them.”

Imre Kovács

The Trianon peace diktat of 1920 expropriated two-thirds of Hungary’s territory and made it a political outcast. Hoping for a review of the unjust peace diktat which had been designed to destroy the country, after ten years of isolation Hungary aligned itself with Rome and Berlin. But during World War II the alliance with Germany became increasingly burdensome, resulting in Hungary first showing reluctance to serve the Nazis, and later seeking ways to extricate itself from the war. In the spring of 1944 the latter was prevented by Nazi Germany’s occupation of our country. Then, in the late summer of 1944, the Soviets invaded. The Red Army drove out the Nazis, but stayed on as the new occupier, transforming Hungary into a communist dictatorship and a Soviet colony.

Both occupations brought with them bitter lessons. Hitler’s Germany carried out the accelerated transportation of Jews from provincial Hungary to labour camps, and to extermination camps outside the country. Almost 440,000 of our compatriots were thus transported, with most of them never returning. To this day the pain of this wound is felt in the heart of our nation. The communist dictatorship, which was settling down to the long-term exercise of power, set itself the goals of radically transforming Hungarian society and plundering the country. Just as had happened after World War I, the victors of World War II summarily partitioned Europe into spheres of interest, disregarding the principle of self-determination. Like the other Central and Eastern European states, the Soviet Union acquired Hungary within its spoils of war, and our country became part of the Soviet empire. Hungary was an occupied country from 1944 onwards. We were not liberated until 1991.

Second floor