Chain Bridge, Budapest

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Memento Park

What a trip. I've returned to Budapest from a great spring break adventure. Back to the daily grind of math classes. I'll post the spring break pictures (there are A LOT of them) when I get the opportunity. Right now I need to get in the mood to learn some math. Today, however, wasn't one of those days. Kaitlin and Rob arrived in Budapest last night and today I took them to Memento Park in southwest Buda.

I had always wanted to go there myself, but never got around to it until today. It takes forever to get there by public transport. Memento Park is an outdoor exhibit of several communist statues that were removed from public space in Budapest after the fall of communism in 1989. The new government made the wise choice to preserve their history by saving the statues instead of following many of their eastern European neighbors who destroyed them, though they still located the park in the farthest, least accessible part of the city. I bought a guide to read about the statues, which is a history lesson in itself. I'm glad I visited Memento Park soon after I returned from western Europe to see the differences in culture relative to government of those countries. One interesting thing about this collection of statues, as opposed to the statues I saw at the Louvre in Paris, is that each statue at Memento Park is there because it was detested by the public, not honored.

There was a small indoor exhibit as well, the most intriguing park was a continuously playing clips from Hungarian Soviet secret police training videos. They showed how to properly search an apartment for contraband and how to discretely conduct surveillance of a suspect. The video is an eerie reminder of the paranoia and fear that Hungary and many Soviet countries endured under communist rule, the fear that Kati Marton's book captured in the true story of her family's experiences in the 1940s and 1950s. I read today that her book is set to be made into a movie. I can't wait to see it.     

I also thought of the Slavin Hill monument in Bratislava, Slovakia, which was built on the mass graves of Soviet soldiers who died liberating the city from the Germans in World War 2 and commemorates their sacrifice. The Slavin monument has the same Soviet imagery as Memento Park, though each serves it own purpose. There is clearly more for me to learn and discover about the history and culture of Europe.

But first, algebra awaits.

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