Communism was not built on the foundations of grand slogans, but on the foundations of the suffering of victims, the Justice Minister stated at the commemoration held on the memorial day of the victims of communism.

László Trócsányi said there are no accurate numbers available to this day as some of the monstrosities committed during communism still have not been fully revealed, but it is possible to make informed estimates regarding the number of those who suffered under the communist regime.

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He highlighted that between 1945 and 1988 some three quarters of death penalties were handed down for political reasons: more than 900 people were executed ill-using “a distorted legal system”. However, the number of those murdered was much higher, he stressed.

The communists were likewise “generous” with prison sentences: they sentenced Hungarian people to minimum 7 to 8 million months of imprisonment, the Minister said.

Mr Trócsányi went on to say that they are also paying tribute to the victims of internment camps: they were equally victims of communism who paid with decades of their lives.

We must further remember those whose private lives were ruined by “the ice-cold hands” of the regime, he said. He pointed out that he regards every single individual who had to fear those in power as a victim of communism.

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The Minister stressed that only those who have stayed alive can pay tribute to those who were killed, and thanked those who contributed with the sacrifices they made to the free world we live in today.

However, not only individuals and communities fell victim to communism, but also Hungary itself: its constitutional values were discarded, its culture and history falsified, Mr Trócsányi stated. He added that in every area of life and society a state of disenfranchisement prevailed, and broken lives paved the path of the communists. While the regime eased up over time, it never quite let go of the perpetual miscarriage of justice, and there were political prisoners even in its last few years.

The Minister said we want to live in a world where, based on mutual respect, this memorial day is a day to commemorate not only in Central and Eastern Europe, but equally in the whole of Europe.

True European unity will come into being when those who only observed our suffering from outside finally come to appreciate the pain of the Hungarian people, Mr Trócsányi stressed, taking the view that it is not enough to remember, we must also remind others.

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In her welcome address, Mária Schmidt, Director General of the House of Terror Museum highlighted that it is disheartening – indicating a state of hopelessness – that despite the documented stories of millions who died and were deprived of their freedom as well as of the hundreds of millions who were humiliated and degraded by the regime there are still parties with communist roots in Europe. In fact, in some countries, including France, the Netherlands and Sweden, they are part of EU politics legitimised by laws.

She pointed out that we live in a world today where the President of the European Commission does not immediately lose his job when he inaugurates a statue of Marx in Germany whose very capital was divided into two with a wall by the communists not so long ago.

She said they reject any notion of democracy which regards the spiritual successors of mass murderers as legitimate negotiating partners, and in their minds they consign the advocates of such ideas to “where they belong: the dustbin of history”.

While there is no torture and there are no executions any more, arrests are still being made, and meanwhile diversity is increasingly disappearing from the press, in particular in the West, she stressed.

Describing communism, Mrs Schmidt mentioned that there was a single party, a single direction, a single world view. Firing squads, a network of informers, torture, a complete lack of freedom of thought and press, persecution of churches, political prisoners, class struggle-focused education already from nursery on, planned economy and a permanent shortage of goods, elections every four years without the slightest chance of a real choice, dictatorship, never-ceasing standing ovations, hopelessness, suicide, Gulag, she listed the characteristics of the regime.

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According to the Director General, the Hungarian people only survived communism because they have something indestructible: a desire for freedom, faith, love for their ancestors, and respect for traditions.

Similar to “its little brother” National Socialism, communism, too, rendered the stigmatisation, torture and killing of people an everyday practice, she said.

The “house of cards of communist lies” collapsed thirty years ago; however, “it did not come down of its own accord, we brought it down,” Mrs Schmidt stated.

She said even many of the bravest cowered when a young man of 25 “sent the Russians packing” at the re-burial of Imre Nagy and his associates.

This memorial day is like a vaccine against a deadly virus which renders today’s generations as well as generations of the future immune to totalitarian dictatorships. This vaccine was born out of the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people, she added.

Mrs Schmidt sent out the message from Budapest that the vaccine of the Hungarian people is enough to cure the whole of Europe.

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After the speeches and a brief commemoration featuring music, participants were invited to light candles at the wall of the House of Terror Museum.

In 2000 Parliament declared 25 February the memorial day of the victims of communism because it was on this day in 1947 that Béla Kovács, Secretary General of the Independent Smallholders’ Party was unlawfully arrested and later taken to the Soviet Union.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)