Prehistory to the 1989 Fall of Communism in Hungary
October 23, 2014

This exhibit approaches the Fall of Communism from a broad historical perspective that presents the pre-history of the highly-visible and well documented public events of 1989, using amateur photographs, Western and Hungarian propaganda newsreels, Radio Free Europe research publications, state security services surveillance documents, samizdat and opposition activists’ materials, as well as 1989-related ephemera from our collections.

It opens just prior to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, the thwarted popular attempt to leave the Communist bloc, and the secret trial, execution and burial of the Revolution’s leaders in 1958. We show how the Revolution was documented from multiple perspectives, and how its memory was officially denied and suppressed in Hungary, before being mobilized again in the 1980s by the democratic opposition. The tradition of the 1956 Hungarian revolution played a major role in undermining the legitimacy of the one-party state in 1988–1989.