[Congressional Record Volume 153, Number 18 (Tuesday, January 30, 2007)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E217-E218]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                       HON. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH

                             of new jersey

                    in the house of representatives

                       Tuesday, January 30, 2007

  Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, this past October, Hungary 
celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Uprising. As President 
Bush said in his October 18 Presidential Proclamation, ``the story of 
Hungarian democracy represents the triumph of liberty over tyranny.'' 
Like the President, I honor the men and women who struggled--not only 
in 1956 but for many years thereafter--for democracy in Hungary.
  The following remarks were made by Istvan Gereben, a man who came to 
this country after the 1956 revolution, but who never forgot his 
homeland. They were delivered by Mr. Gereben in San Francisco on 
October 22, 2006, at the Remember Hungary 1956 Commemoration, at the 
California State Building.

               Revolution, Rebirth, Freedom: Hungary 1956

       From the shadows of blood, iron bars, gallows and simple 
     wooden crosses we step today into the sunshine of 
     remembrance, hope, duty and responsibility. During the past 
     sixteen years the ideas, guiding principles, heroes and 
     martyrs of 1956 gained amends. The moral and political legacy 
     of the Hungarian Revolution, however, still, even today, is 
     misunderstood, misrepresented and waiting to be fully 
       We remember . . . our friends, the Kids of Pest, the 
     colleagues, the relatives, the familiar strangers. The brave 
     Hungarians. Let's remember the dead here, thousands of miles 
     away from their graves but close to their soul, grieving 
     woefully, but full with hope. We pray for those who in their 
     defeat became triumphant. ``For what they have done has been 
     to expose the brutal hypocrisy of Communism for all 
     mankind''--declared Archibald McLeish in the Special Report 
     of Life Magazine in 1957.
       Why did it happen? The best answer can be found in Sandor 
     Marai's poem: Christmas 1956. Angel from Heaven.

     The whole world is talking about the miracle.
     Priests talk about bravery in their sermons.
     A politician says the case is closed.
     The Pope blesses the Hungarian people.
     And each group, each class, everybody
     Asks why it happened this way.
     Why didn't they die out as expected?
     Why didn't they meekly accept their fate?
     Why was the sky torn apart?
     Because a people said, ``Enough!''
     They who were born free do not understand,
     They do not understand that
     ``Freedom is so important, so important!''

       The fight waged by Hungarians in 1956 was inspired by a 
     burning desire for freedom of the individual and the nation, 
     by want for national independence, by thirst for full 
     national and individual sovereignty and by hunger for inner 
     democracy. This Revolution against the Soviet occupiers was a 
     defining moment in Hungarian history and in the nation's 
     political culture. 1956 was one of the most powerful nails 
     driven into the coffin of an evil and fraudulent tyranny.
       Then and continuously since we witness the expression of 
     praise, admiration of and support for the aims of this 
     miracle that is called the Hungarian Revolution.
       Let's refresh our memory with some of the more striking 
     observations by our friends here in America and elsewhere in 
     the World:
       President John F. Kennedy: ``October 23, 1956 is a day that 
     will forever live in the annals of free men and free nations. 
     It was a day of courage, conscience and triumph. No other day 
     since history began has shown more clearly the eternal 
     unquenchability of man's desire to be free, whatever the odds 
     against success, whatever the sacrifice required.'' 
     (Statement, October 23, 1960)
       President Ronald Reagan: ``The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 
     was a true revolution of, by and for the people. Its 
     motivations were humanity's universal longings to live, 
     worship, and work in peace and to determine one's own 
     destiny. The Hungarian Revolution forever gave the lie to 
     communism's claim to represent the people, and told the world 
     that brave hearts still exist to challenge injustice.'' 
     (Excerpt from the Presidential Proclamation issued on October 
     20, 1986.)
       President George W. Bush: ``On the 50th anniversary of the 
     Hungarian Revolution, we celebrate the Hungarians who defied 
     an empire to demand their liberty; we recognize the 
     friendship between the United States and Hungary; and we 
     reaffirm our shared desire to spread freedom to people around 
     the world.'' (Excerpt from the Presidential Proclamation 
     issued on October 18, 2006.)
       Milovan Djilas: ``The changes in Poland mean the triumph of 
     national Communism, which in a different form we have seen in 
     Yugoslavia. The Hungarian uprising is something more, a new 
     phenomenon, perhaps no less meaningful than the French or 
     Russian Revolutions . . . The revolution in Hungary means the 
     beginning of the end of Communism.'' (Excerpt from ``The 
     Storm in Eastern Europe,'' ``The New Leader,'' No. 19, 1956.)
       The New York Times: ``We accuse the Soviet Government of 
     murder. We accuse it of the foulest treachery and the basest 
     deceit known to man. We accuse it of having committed so 
     monstrous crime against the Hungarian people yesterday that 
     its infamy can never be forgiven or forgotten.'' (In an 
     editorial in the paper's November 1956 issue.)
       I could continue with Statements made by Albert Camus, 
     President Richard Nixon, Sir Leslie Munroe, Henry Kissinger, 
     Leo Chern, Pablo Picasso, Nehru and I could read hundreds and 
     hundreds of pages from the Congressional Record listing the 
     praising remarks of hundreds and hundreds lawmakers uttered 
     in the past 50 years. All the words were saved for posterity, 
     everyone can find and savor them.
       October 23, 1956 happened when two powerful ideas--
     tyrannical communism and the eternal human principles of 
     democracy--met and clashed in the middle of Europe, in the 
     small and defenseless Hungary. In this inherently uneven 
     conflict blood was shed and lives were lost. Imre Nagy and 
     his colleagues were arrested, tried and most of them along 
     with countless Freedom Fighters were executed on June 16, 
       Since their death, the political and human challenge has 
     been to find the rationale for their supreme sacrifice. This 
     rationale is the indestructible dignity of every human being. 
     By refusing to beg for his life, Imre Nagy repudiated his 
     personal past for a more hopeful future of Hungary and the 
     world at large.
       The significance of his and countless other Hungarians' 
     sacrifice is etched onto the political map of the 21st 
     century. The invented hope of the Hungarian Revolution is 
     taking shape in the recent developments throughout the world. 
     That is the real miracle of the events of 1956 and the 
     subsequent human sacrifices of Imre Nagy and his fellow 
     Freedom Fighters.
       The Revolution was brutally and unavoidably defeated.
       Why was the fate of the Revolution predetermined? Why did 
     it happen so that when we in the last days of October and the 
     early days of November in 1956 enthusiastically and full with 
     hope sensing victory strolled the streets of Budapest and the 
     cities and villages of Hungary not suspecting that our fate, 
     independently from us, already has been determined. The 
     deadly sentence was delivered by the powers of the world? And 
     if it is so why was the verdict such as it was?
       Even after 50 years there is still no answer.
       The questions are not new. The lack of answer frustrated 
     many historians, political scientists but none had the 
     determination, the skill, the objectivity and patience to 
     provide an authentic answer.
       Robert Murphy, who, in the absence of Secretary of State 
     John Foster Dulles from Washington, attended to the day to 
     day business of the State Department during the Hungarian 
     Revolution, summarized his frustration caused by not being 
     able to find a satisfactory answer to Hungary's demands in 
     his autobiography, Diplomat Among Warriors, published in 1964 
     this way:
       ``In retrospect, world acceptance of the Russian aggression 
     in Hungary is still incredible. For sheer perfidy and 

[[Page E218]]

     suppression of a courageous people longing for their liberty, 
     Hungary will always remain a classic symbol. Perhaps history 
     will demonstrate that the free world could have intervened to 
     give the Hungarians the liberty they sought, but none of us 
     in the State Department had the skill or the imagination to 
     devise a way.''
       This answer seems to be the most honest one.
       Hungarians have fallen back in the Soviet yoke. But the 
     nation persevered.
       There are times when remembrance is the bravest action--
     declared Gyula Illyes, the eminent Hungarian poet in the 
     middle of the twentieth century. Today such times are present 
     in Hungary. The time for bravery to remain faithful to the 
     moral and political maxims of the Revolution. Bravery 
     witnessed not against the tanks, soldiers and henchmen of the 
     occupying empire, bravery not contesting a strange, inhuman 
     ideology, but courage to face insensitivity, to confront and 
     solve the problems of humdrum everyday life, the bravery 
     necessary to assume the responsibility and sacrifice of 
     building a truly modern country, which is democratic, 
     committed to observe the rule of law and governed by the 
     constitution. At the present, this kind of bravery does not 
     uniformly characterize all Hungarians.
       Hungary was redeemed 35 years after the defeated 
     Revolution. During that 35 years her plight to fulfill the 
     demands of 1956 gained respect and support in the West. The 
     courage, the intelligence, the determination and the skill of 
     the Hungarian Democratic Opposition to engage a first 
     bloodthirsty, later, sophisticated dictatorship resulted in 
     recognition of the opposition's leaders as authoritative 
     spokesmen for the fulfillment of the desires of the Hungarian 
     people. They were inspired by the spirit of the Revolution 
     and adopted its maxims.
       In the United States, Presidents and ordinary citizens 
     lined up in support behind the Democratic Opposition. The 
     United States, by publicly expressing support in words and in 
     action provided protection for individuals and the whole 
     community of the dissidents.
       The U.S. Government published English translations of 
     selected samizdat literature produced by opposition 
     activists. Many volumes, each with hundreds of pages of 
     these, were printed and distributed in the '70s and the '80s. 
     A collection of these is deposited in the National Szechenyi 
     Library in Budapest.
       Information provided by the dissidents was used by the 
     Hungarian Freedom Fighters Federation U.S.A. and the 
     Coordinating Committee of Hungarian Organizations in North 
     America in their countless testimonies before Congress, 
     the U.S Commission on Security and Cooperation, and in 
     numerous briefings presented in the White House and in the 
     State and Defense Departments.
       A longstanding issue between the Hungarian Communist 
     Government and the Opposition, Hungarians abroad and more 
     significantly the United States Government was the 
     unwillingness of the Communist Government to identify the 
     secret location of the graves in which the executed Freedom 
     Fighters were buried. A campaign covering several decades by 
     U.S. Presidents, Congressman, the Commission on Security and 
     Cooperation, hundreds of leading public figures and civic 
     organizations culminated in a letter sent on June 20, 1988, 
     by Congressman Frank Horton, along with 43 other 
     Representatives urging Prime Minister Karoly Grosz of Hungary 
     to comply with the many requests filed with the Hungarian 
     Government in the past and allow the family members of the 
     executed to have access to the body of their relatives. 
     Responding in letter dated July 18, 1988 the Prime Minister 
       ``My Government has the intention to settle this problem in 
     a humane spirit in the near future, enabling the families to 
     rebury the dead and to pay their tribute at the graves.''
       The public ceremony of the reburial took place on June 16, 
     1989 in the presence of 200,000 grieving Hungarians. With 
     this act the road opened to free parliamentary and local 
     elections in 1990 and the formation of a free Government.
       The demands of the Hungarian people were fulfilled. The 
     building of a constitutional parliamentary democracy is under 
       In these days worrisome news comes from Hungary indicating 
     that the road is not smooth. The diamond of twentieth century 
     Hungarian history that was formed in 1956 under the stresses 
     of the circumstances and in the fire burning in every 
     Hungarian's heart is being tested today in Hungary. False 
     prophets, eager mouths, zealous hands driven by dark emotions 
     attempt to pulverize this gem into powder of coal and then 
     burn it into ashes and dross. They will not succeed. History 
     and we will not let them to succeed.
       On this 50th Anniversary when we remember and pay tribute 
     to the ideals and heroes of 1956, we also affirm our deeply 
     felt conviction that lasting freedom and democracy will not 
     take hold in Hungary unless the precepts of the Revolution 
     regarding resolute unity, sacrifice, human and political 
     wisdom are practically and fully implemented. We call upon 
     those who are responsible for Hungary's welfare to heed to 
     the principles for which so many died in 1956 and to whose 
     memory we pay tribute today.
       We pray that it will be so! Lord Hear our prayer . . . God 
     bless Hungary . . . Isten aldd meg a magyart!