Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Where communist statues go to die

In the frenzy of revolution, history shows that pretty much anything associated with the former regime tends to be smashed, burnt or destroyed in the heat of the moment.

Budapest took a different tack.

It assembled in one place some of the communist statutes which had once been dotted around the city.

Lenin: keeping an eye over the park
Lenin showing the way: spotting a theme here?

The result, an open air museum called Memento Park (also known as Statute Park and Szobor Park), has become one of Budapest's most popular and surprising attractions.

During their time, these statutes were meant to inspire, educate, glorify, and perhaps even intimidate.   As befitting the ideology, the statues depict the loyal and hard-working proletariat, heroic soldiers, important communist events, and strong leaders.
Republic of Councils monument
One of the more dynamic statues in the park
"He's behind you!"

Today, they stand a fair distance from downtown Budapest; still striking their mighty poses under high voltage power lines and being unwilling accomplices in tourists' quirky photos.

Regardless of your ideology, it's hard not to appreciate the energy and artistry in some of the statues.

Monument to the Martyrs of the Counter-Revolution: a surprisingly evocative statue
But probably even more remarkable is that they still exist at all.    After the fall of the Hungarian communist regime in 1989, debate raged about what to do with these symbols of past oppression.

Some wanted the statues destroyed, but in the end they have been preserved and herded into the park as a representation of an important period in Hungarian history.

A worker cut out of the wall?

Red Army Soldier: with crazy eyes

Workers' Movement Memorial: he's got the whole world in his hands 

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