We are able to defend Hungary’s interests both at home and abroad, the Prime Minister stated on Sunday in Zalaegerszeg. In his ceremonial speech he also spoke about the fact that 1956 was the revolution of the entire country, the entire nation even.
On the occasion of the memorial day of the 1956 revolution and freedom fight, at the inauguration ceremony of the building of the Mindszentyum, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán highlighted that “according to the Left looking down on us people from the countryside,” it is not right to celebrate in Zalaegerszeg, “as they say, only in Zalaegerszeg”. They do not understand that Budapest is not the same as the country, he said.
He took the view that Zalaegerszeg was a worthy venue because the people of Zala had suffered much during communist rule, but had held out as long as they had been able to. The people of Zalaegerszeg “were among the first in October 1956 to not delay a second in taking to the streets,” and were among the last to lay their arms down in December, he recalled.
He said then the time had come, “they took revenge at the first opportunity,” as the people of Zala County were among the very few who sent an opposition member to the communist Parliament even before the change of regime, in September 1989. Fate has a good sense of humour as the then winning candidate of the opposition was called Gyula Marx, and with this “Marx defeated the Marxists,” he added.
Praising some of the great figures of Hungary’s church life, Mr Orbán said they acted as a point of reference not only in matters regarding faith. The great Hungarian Catholic leaders were at the vanguard preaching the Gospel, but with their guidance and deeds they served “the country of Mary, Hungary” both in their lives and in their deaths, he said.
He stressed that the greatest Hungarian church leaders had always led the Hungarian people as prophets, and “performed the task of spiritual leadership of the country besides political leaders, or when the need emerged – and it frequently did – also instead of political leaders”. József Mindszenty was one such senior priest, Mr Orbán added.
He said “whilst serving God, Mindszenty always fulfilled his duty for his country”. “He was not just any leader of ours, he led the way with the unstoppable resistance of a column of fire,” he said.
He pointed out that in 1956 the Cardinal “showed us the way, and we Hungarians will never forget that service of his”. Even in a stormy headwind, he held onto the truth of the Hungarian people, he recalled.
The Prime Minister said the Hungarians knew that even in the midst of the revolution, they needed spiritual support, “this is why they freed Mindszenty from the prison of the communists”.
We want to be worthy of Archbishop Mindszenty’s community-building heritage, and of the courage of the heroes of 1956 in the face of death, we want to make use of the opportunity that today we have to live for our country, not die for it, Mr Orbán stated, adding that this is why they are now inaugurating the Mindszentyum as a tribute to Archbishop Mindszenty that will hopefully also serve as a pilgrimage site.
“We sincerely hope that following the traditions of the institutions established by the Prince-Primate, this place, too, will fill up with life, and every Hungarian will be able to use the conclusions, teachings and admonitions of the life of József Mindszenty for their own benefit,” he said.
He added that József Mindszenty was the one who first “called a spade a spade;” he spoke about a freedom fight, rather than an uprising. He professed with conviction, the Prime Minister recalled, that we are not anybody’s enemies, we want to be friends with every people and country.
Mr Orbán said “our true tragedy” is that the communists, with the assistance of the Soviet Kalashnikovs supporting them returned, and instead of peace, they continued where they left off on 23 October: class struggle, dictatorship of the proletariat, party state, political prisons, executions.
Glory to the victims, respect for those who resisted, he stressed.
He indicated that the Hungarian State has much to owe to József Mindszenty’s memory as we also have a debt to repay to the frequently neglected people of Zala who were pushed to the country’s periphery first by the dictate of Trianon, and after World War II by the Iron Curtain.
He recalled that in the past few years, the national government had done much in order to help Zalaegerszeg and Zala County to return to the mainstream of history, and to start growing again.
In continuation, Mr Orbán said the heroes of the revolution were very different people, but their actions were driven by the same idea, they were all in love with the ideal of a free Hungary.
He added that they undertook to face all the dangers and risks because they believed that they could succeed, and this hope of theirs was not entirely without foundation as in 1956 Hungary had a real chance of gaining its independence back.
According to the Prime Minister, in 1956 all reasonable conditions were given for a violence-free transition in Hungary.
He recalled that Austria had gained and secured neutrality in 1955; after Stalin’s death, hostilities between the two blocs eased, and there was reason to presume that the new Soviet leadership would want to open up in relations between East and West.
Mr Orbán said we had reason to believe that in the long term it was not possible to build an empire on the foundations of oppression maintained at the expense of bloodshed, the way Gorbachev finally came to see this in 1990.
He added that in the first few days the plan had worked; hundreds of thousands of Hungarians took part in the revolution, the Soviets were all confused, and the Hungarians – had the West not betrayed them for a second time after 1945 – could have succeeded.
Mr Orbán said in the absence of support from the West, the Soviet leaders changed their minds half-way, turned the tanks around, and again forced 35 years of military oppression and a communist puppet government on the Hungarians.
“Our cause became hopeless, and a country awaited its fate, paralysed,” he said.
He said from among members of the government, István Bibó alone stayed in Parliament, and in his manifesto intended for the Hungarian people and the world, he wrote: “It would be irresponsible to dispose of the precious blood of Hungarian youths. The people of Hungary have already shed enough blood, showing the world their affection for freedom and justice”.
In summary, Mr Orbán said Hungarian blood must be appreciated as a precious commodity because “other than us, no one will appreciate it;” it was not appreciated by the communists either who organised bloodbaths with tanks during the revolution, and bloody retaliation after the revolution. Neither was the Hungarian people’s blood appreciated by the then free world which first encouraged the Hungarians, and then elected to not help, he added.
He said “back then, they put us on the cover of Time magazine, and then left us under the Soviet thumb for forty years, thinking that the Soviets will at least have one more thing to worry about”.
The Prime Minister stated: the lesson is clear, only the Hungarians can show the world the truth of the Hungarians, and only the Hungarians can defend their own truth against the threats facing them.
“If the country is destroyed, we will have fought for freedom in vain. If there are only charred ruins left, then we will have gained nothing. If people in the millions are forced to leave their country, the next generation will have no motherland. We have nowhere to run because we cannot find Hungary anywhere else,” he said, pointing out that this is what we must preserve, this is what we must protect, it is here that we must find advancement.
Mr Orbán highlighted that “in 1956 we repeated the lesson of a thousand years”. He said fortitude is the best shield, its hardening is the best weapon against tyranny, while its softening is the greatest gift we can give our enemies.
He stressed that the Hungarians had remained tough and determined, and had finally won in 1990, they had regained a free and independent Hungary.
From this the whole world can understand that whoever may want to “sit on our necks” is doomed to fail, Mr Orbán stressed, adding that “we were here when the first conquering empire attacked us, and we will be here when the last one collapses”.
The Prime Minister indicated that all at once we must fight against the invasion of migrants in the South, the war in the East and an economic crisis in the West. “It is a blessing under the present unfortunate circumstances that it is not the Left in government today,” he observed.
We are able to defend Hungary’s interests both at home and abroad, Mr Orbán continued.
He said in 1956 we learnt that in hard times only unity can help. Therefore, we should not care about those “who keep shooting at Hungary sometimes from the shadows, sometimes from the Brussels firing platform,” they will end up where their ancestors did, he said.
The Prime Minister stressed that ever since Hungary had had a national government, the country had come out of every crisis stronger than it had been going in. Also now, we are fully prepared, we will preserve the economy’s stability, everyone will have jobs, we will be able to defend the reduction of household energy bills, and families will not be left by the wayside, Mr Orbán highlighted, adding that the government had the strength and experience for that.
At the ceremony, Fidesz Member of Parliament for the constituency of Zalaegerszeg and the Zalaegerszeg region László Vígh said also today we are in great need of Mindszenty’s cast-iron determination. He did not compromise “either with the Fascists, the communists, or regarding his faith,” he showed the true way because this country only ever grew and developed when it followed a Christian path.
Mayor Zoltán Balaicz (Fidesz-KDNP) said, among others, that József Mindszenty – who was active in Zalaegerszeg between 1917 and 1944 – is the only historical personality attached to the city who is widely known not only in Hungary, but throughout Europe and the world.
The purpose of the Mindszentyum built as part of the Modern Cities Programme is to showcase – as a new public collection in the countryside – the life of Zalaegerszeg’s best-known historical figure, his local, city-building activity and the persecution of churches by the communist dictatorship.