Monday, October 13, 2014

Stalin's Boots

What do you do with old used statues? Imagine the iconic image of the revolutionaries pulling down the statues of the old regime. What happens to those old statues that no longer represent the current political ideology?

When the communist era came crashing down with the fall of the USSR, Budapest was faced with the problem of all the statues that no one wanted in the public places. Fortunately the city made a positive decision to save the statues but move them out of the city where you had to make a concerted effort to go see them. Apparently the only statue from the Soviet era still standing within the city is one dedicated as a memorial to the Soviet soldiers who died in the war and is not seen as propaganda but as a reminder of those who died.

Today we spent the afternoon at Memento Park. This is where all the statues were put when they were torn down. It is not just a statue “Dump”, it is an attractive park where all the old statues are displayed. It is about 8 km out of the city and takes a bit to get there. Fortunately the subway has been extended and a transfer to one bus gets you to the park. We elected to do our own tour and just bought the English Visitor’s Guide. As we walked around, Regis read the descriptions of the various statues. It was interesting to see that not only was the park not busy, the visitors were completely tourists from foreign countries, and even the friendly fellow in the ticket booth was very English – it seems that many Hungarians are not quite ready to remember the soviet era positively.

It really was an interesting tour. It is so good that someone made a positive decision to save these statues that although representing a hated political era, still are symbols of a part of this country’s history, and Memento Park is preserving them for all to see. Oh,  . . . . Stalin’s Boots are all that remain of his huge statue that was in Budapest and they are displayed over the entrance to the park.

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