The generation of witnesses is bidding farewell, the generation of Katyn, the lads of Pest and the survivors of the Gulag, but let us listen to them while we can, the Minister of Human Capacities said on Wednesday evening in Budapest, at the end of the memorial march organised on the occasion of the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes, at the House of Terror Museum.

Zoltán Balog highlighted: remembrance makes sense and has content if the eye witnesses speak to us. The Holocaust Memorial Year was created a few years ago, followed by the Gulag Memorial Year and the 1956 Memorial Year, so that the survivors can tell us the stories of their lives, and teach the generations to come.

“The memorial years are coming to an end, but remembrance continues. It continues so that we may remain faithful to those who went before us, to everything that makes freedom so precious”, Mr Balog said. The Minister reiterated: the Day of Remembrance is also the anniversary of the conclusion of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

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The anniversary of the event where “incredibly cynical, inhumane and godless people decided on a piece of paper about the destruction of millions of lives, and the enslaving of nations living on a territory the size of a continent”. This day clearly indicates what a terrible place Central-Europe torn into pieces by two world empires as quarry was in 1939 and in the decades that followed.

During these years, all that was left to Eastern- and Central-Europe was survival. A desperate struggle against those occupying our countries in the name of national socialism and international socialism. A desperate struggle on every possible front of survival: in culture, in science, in sports or in church communities, Mr Balog reiterated.

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The western half of Europe was able to choose a different path after World War II. It abandoned the politics of great powers striving for hegemony, and opted for a common future that is based on propitiation, mutual respect and the reconciliation of interests.

Europe living in the shadow of war united its strength in order to preserve peace. This is the alliance that later became the European Union, an alliance that is based on Christian values, respect, freedom, love and justice. This is what we would need also today, he added.

Before the memorial march, Piarist monk Lajos Kerényi stated at Kossuth tér: all totalitarian regimes want human beings to stop being human beings, to stop having a will of their own, and to be reduced to a mere number.

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He reiterated: in the Donbass forced labour camp where he was taken as a prisoner of war and where they all had a very difficult fate, a handful of young boys decided to never lose heart, and to conquer despondency, and to conquer communism with the strength of the cross.

And so finally, „I came home in rags, but all the richer spiritually”, he said. The Piarist monk warned: now that „we are slowly unfolding from these horrors”, we must make sure „that we do not run into yet another one: the horror of nihilism”.

The memorial march started from Kossuth tér, the participants first walked to the Shoes Memorial on the Danube Bank where they each laid a white flower in memory of the victims. Following this, a group of a few hundred walked to the House of Terror Museum on the Báthory utca – Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út – Nagymező utca – Andrássy út route.

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The remembrance event was attended, among others, by Bence Rétvári, Parliamentary State Secretary of the Ministry of Human Capacities, Deputy Mayor of Budapest Gábor Bagdy, Mária Schmidt, Director General of the House of Terror Museum, representatives of opposition parties and churches, and members of the diplomatic corps.

The Day of Remembrance for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes is held in Europe on 23 August, the anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939.

(Ministry of Human Capacities/MTI)