Seventy-seven years ago today, on January 17, 1945, a Swedish diplomat sent as a special envoy to Nazi-occupied Budapest with a mission to rescue Jews from extermination, was detained by the Red Army on suspicion of espionage. The diplomat was Raoul Wallenberg, a businessman and a member of a banking and industrial family; he was never again seen alive.
“Citizens of the Polish People’s Republic! I turn to you today as a soldier, and as the head of the Polish government. I turn to you in a matter of supreme importance. Our country has found itself at the edge of abyss. The achievements of many generations, the house erected from Polish ashes, is being ruined. The structures of the state are ceasing to function.” These were the first lines of General Wojciech Jaruzelski’s speech aired 40 years ago at 6 am, on December 13, 1981.
69 percent lived in settlements on the outskirts of towns or around villages, 88 percent of adults didn't finish primary school.
I usually encounter three typical reactions when I mention that I deal with education for democratic citizenship (for the sake of simplicity, let us call it “democratic civic education”): firstly, a wry grin signalling that my conversation partner has no idea what I am talking about (most people, but especially my parents’ generation). Secondly, a fierce indignation that there is no need for civic education, and we know all-too-well how similar top-down, compulsory programs turned out (my grandparents).
The first clumsy steps of a child, blowing candles off a birthday cake, a family holiday at the lake Balaton, or cruising along the Italian coast. These are just some of the usual snippets from the Private Photo and Film Foundation’s rich collection of home movies from the last century. As early as the 1920s, amateur cameras appeared in Hungary and became prevalent ways of recording everyday, private realities of primarily middle- and upper-middle-class families.
In September 2021, the latest movie by highly acclaimed Russian director Andrey Konchalovsky, Dear Comrades! premiered in Hungary. The film depicts the heart-rending story of the 1962 Novocherkassk shooting. Public knowledge on the mass protest and its brutal dispersion was suppressed in the USSR before the regime change; in Russia today, it is facing the risk of quieting again.
In the bipolar world emerged during the 1950s, the weaponless Cold War, obtaining information (also by the means of spying) and state propaganda gained extraordinary significance. While the US and the USSR had similar objectives (i.e., overcoming the other), their methods were more different.
Was Islamic fundamentalism’s seclusion as the only governing force left in Afghanistan preventable? When was the last ray of hope of a steady Afghanistan joining the international community lost? Presumably, in the last chapter of the Cold War, when the superpowers turned the country into a site of their rivalry.
“The celebration took place in the courtyard of the San Sabba refugee camp, on August 20, at 11 a.m., near the monument commemorating the Italian and Jewish hostages the Nazis had executed here,” says a 1956 Information Item of Radio Free Europe (RFE).
It has been twenty years since journalist and politician Miklós Vásárhelyi’s passing. Between 1984 and 1990, Vásárhelyi was the personal representative of George Soros on the Hungarian Academy of Sciences – Soros Foundation Committee. From 1991 to 1994, he served as Vice President of the Soros Foundation, then Chair of the Board between 1994 and 2001.