On April 26, 1986, 37 years ago, an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant caused a radioactive cloud that spread over a large area in Europe, with the western parts of the Soviet Union—today’s Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia—receiving the strongest portion of it. More than eight million people were exposed to radiation leading to death, diseases, and despair.
April 16 is the Memorial Day of Hungarian Victims of the Holocaust. The Blinken OSA Archivum opened its Auschwitz 1945–1989. Reconstruction exhibit in 2004 on this day; the exhibition was on display for two months, but was quickly followed by an open-access virtual version (only in Hungarian) the same year. However, this online exhibit became unavailable in 2021 for technical reasons.
On December 5, 1994, an event took place in Budapest, Hungary, which became the final and defining step in a series of decisions toward the third-largest nuclear state abandoning its nuclear arsenal and becoming a non-nuclear-weapon state. That country was Ukraine. With the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine took third place in the list of nuclear states, behind the United States and the Russian Federation.
Matthew Nimetz, a Trustee of Central European University, told the following story on a cold winter’s day in Nádor Street: “In the late fall of 1977, when US President Jimmy Carter decided to return the crown of St. Stephen to Hungary, he instructed me, as his chief advisor to the Secretary of State, to travel to Fort Knox, Arizona, where the Hungarian crown jewels were stored along with the gold holdings of the US Federal Reserve Bank, and see the condition of the crown jewels.
”Westerners ask how Soviet citizens feel about their government's actions in Afghanistan; this question is difficult to answer in the absence of a free press and without public opinion polling on sensitive issues.
“Whose terror was it? . . . The mass consciousness views mass terror the same way it viewed the Plague during the Middle Ages. We were living our lives, and then suddenly—the Plague! It came and it killed many, many people. And then it left, and we continued on living. But this is not right. Memorial’s response is a fairly simple one.
“Gerő suggested it, and Rákosi consented, adding that he had talked it over with Soviet comrades. . . . Politically, I think... my activities were very negative. Thinking about it now, I know that accepting the premiership was a bad decision,” András Hegedüs said in his 1985 oral history interview conducted by democratic opposition figure Zoltán Zsille, broadcast on Radio Free Europe and also distributed in samizdat in print.
A man smoking cigarette on a bench, arguing with the journalist Henrik Havas, complains that “a fraudulent and brutally undemocratic electoral law has been drawn up in secret . . .  with privileged groups calling themselves opposition.” This is Hungary not in the 2010s or 2020s, but in 1989, as put by György Krassó, one of the first critics of the regime change.
2022 marks the 70th anniversary of one of the most infamous events in post-WWII Soviet Jewish history. On the night between August 12 and 13, 1952, known as the Night of the Murdered Poets, 13 members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC)—intellectuals, scientists, Yiddish poets and writers, all Soviet citizens of Jewish origin—were executed in Moscow’s Lubyanka prison. The victims were charged with espionage against the Soviet state and “nationalist activity,” which meant treason.
The Dialogue Peace Group was established, after some prior planning, at a gathering on June 26, 1982, 40 years ago today, according to most contemporary sources and historical research. At the time, there were the wide-ranging international peace movements of the West, while on the other side of the Iron Curtain there was the “peace-fighting” peace movement of Socialist countries. In Hungary, the National Peace Council played the role of the official, thus exclusive and centrally managed peace movement.