Vera & Donald Blinken Open Society Archives
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the trial by People's Jury of Imre Nagy and his fellow defendants, OSA Archivum, jointly with the 1956 Institute, is organizing an unusual, one-week-long event.
When Imre Nagy and his associates were tried in June 1958, the sound technicians of the Ministry of the Interior operated two tape recorders in the courtroom. From the first day of the trial right up to the submission of the appeal for clemency, they recorded the entire proceedings, which included the cross-examination of the accused and the witnesses, the case for the prosecution, the defense attorney’s speech and the defendants’ final statements. In 1990 the tapes of the 52-hour-long recording were transferred from the Supreme Court to the Hungarian National Archives, where they have been held ever since. In the course of the last year the recordings have been digitized with the help of the National Széchényi Library. The quality of the recordings is surprisingly good; except for a couple of hitches lasting a few seconds each, the speeches are perfectly audible and comprehensible.
In the interests of restoring the dignity of the people who were sentenced either to death or to long years in prison, we feel it is essential that we finally provide a full and objective account of the trial and the proceedings. In organizing the event, we have been motivated as much by moral and humane considerations, as by professional obligations. Our hope is that, instead of having to watch a fake documentary made by the murderers to promote the interests of the Kádár regime’s propaganda machine – a manipulative film that has been shown over and over again in Budapest during the past six years – , people should finally be allowed to commemorate the trial by listening to the full, uncut recording for the first time.
The two institutions organizing the event decided to arrange for the presentation of the trial’s only authentic and intact documentation to take place from June 9 (Monday) through June 15 (Sunday), during the same hours that the hearings were originally held, so as to reconstruct the proceedings in some way. By chance, the dates in question fell on the same days of the week in 1958, as they will do in 2008.
Background Reports from OSA's Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Collection pertaining to Imre Nagy's trial and execution: