Ladies and Gentlemen, Prime Minister Boross, Madam Director-General, Families of the departed,
Communism is a past that lives with us. It is just as a much a part of us as an old scar that still sometimes aches, long after it has healed. This painful feeling is not brought on by changes in the weather, but by names, dates, photographs and yellowed letters; or, indeed, this national memorial site – which is the final resting place of our 1956 heroes. We have gathered here today to bow our heads before the victims of the communist system. 298, 300, 301: to the citizens of more fortunate countries, these are just numbers. To us they are code numbers. They are the code numbers of time capsules which contain the brutality of the communist dictatorship: bodies with hands and feet wired together, wrapped in tar paper and thrown into unmarked graves. Fathers, sons, wives, daughters, friends, whose very memory the communists wanted to erase – just as they condemned to oblivion the memory of the hundreds of thousands who disappeared to the East in endless trainloads, to be swallowed by the Gulag archipelago. There are still with us today witnesses who survived the prisons and forced labour camps of the Reds. That past is past, but still alive.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In 2000 we decided that, after years of confusion, denial and falsification, it was finally time to commemorate the victims of communism in a worthy manner. We can be proud of the fact that it was our government which settled this historical debt – as befits a Christian, national government. And it also seems fitting that this decision was made by a generation of grandchildren, in tribute to the suffering and steadfastness of their grandparents. To commemorate all those whose only crime was that they did not fit into the tight cage of the proletarian dictatorship and its class struggle. To those who were punished for having a few more acres of land, or because they stubbornly remained true to their faith, political beliefs or civil rights – and who as such were obstacles to the communists. They are the people we are commemorating today. Our presence together here today is proof that the crimes of the communist dictatorship can never be expunged. And it is also proof that the names of the murdered and imprisoned, and the steadfastness of their actions, will always be treasured by a loyal – but not always grateful – national memory.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today people no longer talk about the fact that the ideas that led to oppression in the 20th century came into being in Western minds. Both communism and national socialism emerged as intellectual products of the West. They were invented not in Moscow or Cambodia, and not even in Havana, but to the west of us in Europe, from where they spread to consume half the world. But in the end it was we Central Europeans who were forced to live under this originally Western idea. Meanwhile in the West communism remained pure theory: the tingling intellectual excitement of meddlesome global utopians. We, who experienced communism on the other side of the Iron Curtain, still find it hard to understand how many members of the western intelligentsia, artists, writers and politicians – self-proclaimed “progressives” – enthusiastically praised the genocidal communist dictatorship. It is difficult to believe that it was not obvious that the Soviets were deporting to slave labour camps those whom they regarded as class enemies, or as dangerous for any other reason. It is also hard to believe that today many in the West are still excusing the crimes of communism – and even the European Union itself is reluctant to unequivocally condemn them. And since we are talking about an ancient human truth and a deeply moral issue, in the 21st century this reluctance cannot be excused by left-wing party sympathy or party affiliation. This can all be traced back to the fact that, while an international military court passed judgement on the crimes of Nazism, after the collapse of communism representatives of the free world did not arrive at a similarly strict verdict in response to the crimes of the latter. It is no accident that Europe has a guilty conscience when it comes to the crimes committed by communism. Here in Central Europe, we must preserve the sobriety we acquired under the yoke of communist oppression and Soviet occupation. Even after a quarter of a century we still remember the nature of tyranny, the reminders of which are everywhere. And as a result it is probable that we will also die with this memory. Our children’s generation knows nothing of all this, it is not familiar with it, it did not live through it, it did not become something that drove their lives. It is we who must remind them that freedom cannot be taken for granted – even if today it seems as natural as breathing. It is we who must make them understand that freedom is always only one generation away from extinction. We must fight for it, we must protect it, and we must teach our children to do the same.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today in Hungary there is freedom and we live in safety. We have a bright future, one that we have chosen for ourselves – unlike the communist dictatorship, in which there were only stifled energies and boarded-over skies. Over the past few years we have rebuilt the country with incredible effort: unification of the nation; reinforcement of our Christian roots; a new vitality for families; throwing off the chains of debt slavery; the Hungarian national economy; self-esteem, responsibility and a willpower that takes action. We, the Hungarians of today, choose freedom every single day. We have understood that we can only be free if we never again surrender our sovereignty. We have understood that we can only live in peace and security if we remain steadfast. Because we have personally experienced it, we have understood that if we trust in freedom, eventually it will create order for us. We have understood that we can only have a future if it is both free and Hungarian. Only a country of free Hungarians has a future. And for this reason we must always crush the vipers’ eggs of communism and fascism in good time.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The conception, construction and inauguration of this new visitors’ centre represents the repayment of a longstanding debt. Thanks be to God that Hungary, our homeland, has finally reached a point at which it has fulfilled this historical duty.
God bless Hungary!