This post is about a tour guide’s insight into the emergence of Hungary from foreign domination. The guide was Agnes K, a retired schoolteacher. Her tour concentrated on the Pest side, particularly government and political sites, followed by a traditional Hungarian restaurant that was partly a museum of cultural history. Agnes showed us a statue of Imre Nagy, standing on a small bridge, dressed in ordinary business clothing.
Nagy was a well respected citizen in Hungary at the time of the 1956 rebellion. He was chosen to be President; however, after the revolution was put down by Soviet troops he was executed. His successor nevertheless followed many of Nagy’s ideas in crafting the Communist government of Hungary that evolved after 1956. This was considerably less restrictive than in other Iron Curtain countries. Agnes spoke about growing up during this period, having enough to eat, a home, schooling, and then a free university education. She felt good about living in her country until she realized the problem of the lack of freedom. She then showed us a statue of Ronald Reagan, who was very much appreciated by the Hungarians, especially after the collapse of Communism in Europe.
She also showed us a controversial sculpture recently commissioned by the Hungarian government to exonerate the country from being on the wrong side in World War II.
The eagle (top center) represents Germany threatening Hungary. But Agnes pointed out photos left of people executed by Hungarian Nazis, a protest against the sculpture. You do not often get insights like this from tour guides!
Agnes also took us for a goulash lunch at a restaurant, Urban Betyar, that had a rural cultural museum downstairs. One of the displays shows a typical country kitchen oven. Agnes said her grandmother had one just like it, and she recently purchased one herself.
There was a lot more, but I think this gives the flavor of Agnes’ tour. She went beyond the norm to give us some insight into her country.