In the northern part of downtown Budapest, apart from the hospital in a rock and the spas stands a museum designed as both a horror house and monument to the people imprisoned, tortured and murdered within. The black building framed by a granite sidewalk stands out against the other buildings on the street.
Here you will find a tragic story of a country controlled by powers much stronger than itself. These powers, both Fascist Germany and the USSR, ruled through fear, destruction, rape and murder for over fifty years. Visiting the Museum of Terror is a chance to experience the evil that humanity is capable of when left unchecked by morality.
Coming from the opulent world that we do it is tough to imagine the struggle for life. Imagine living in a place where you could be interrogated at any time, have your papers demanded, and threatened with arrest. Imagine going to the store and being stopped by a group of soldiers who pull you into the back alley and rape you again and again then leave you beaten and bloody in the street. This isn’t a sick nightmare, but the world that millions of people lived in, and this is the horrible but necessary lesson that visiting the Museum of Terror in Budapest will teach. In a few words, this lesson can be summed up as- humans can be very, very bad to each other.
When Adolph Hitler learned that the Hungarian prime minister was going to develop a peace treaty with the Allied Forces he invaded Hungary. Hitler stealthily moved troops into Hungary while diverting the attention of its military leader in another direction. At the point of a gun and under the threat of brutal occupation the Nazis suggested a new prime minister be appointed, and just like that Hitler quickly and without the loss of any blood took over Hungary.
The fascist rule was short but brutal, and details were carried out according to the Nazi plan titled Operation Margarethe. All Jews were rounded up and sent to the ghettos, the most notable one formed in Budapest. Many died in the extermination mission that was carried out in Hungary and the surrounding countries. The building that is now the Museum of Terror was actually a spot where the Nazis tortured, imprisoned and murdered many of these people.
The Nazis then forced the Hungarian Army to fight for them on their western against Russia. Russia overpowered this front, though, and when they made their way into Hungary they announced their victory with widespread looting and raping. According to several accounts as much as 10% of the female population was raped just in those first few days alone. The Red Army’s distaste for Hungarians meant that army commanders didn’t even attempt to curb the brutal, widespread raping.
COMMUNISM IN HUNGARY
Although the Soviets occupied Hungary from late 1944 until 1989 they didn’t turn Hungary into a USSR satellite nation until1948. They forcibly merged the Hungarian Social Democratic Party with the Communist Party and formed the Hungarian Worker’s Party. From that point on Communism was the law of the land until 1989.
But, the Soviets and their new Hungarian Worker’s Party had a problem. They had no good way to get their new laws out to all the people. So, they did the one thing that usually happens when a conquering nation takes over a country it doesn’t like, they resorted to violence.
The conceptual trials is a slang term coined by the Hungarian Worker’s Party to describe a series of trials that were publicly put on at this time. The attempt was to show people how to tie the communist line by killing or confining people who were examples of non-tolerated behavior.
One has to imagine that these individuals were first taken to the interrogation center and prison, which today is the Museum of Terror, and tortured mercilessly until they agreed to “confess the truth” about their indiscretions. When you visit the museum you can see some of the torture methods in the lower levels.
Descend past the videos of prisoners confessing to crimes they didn’t commit before the public, past the details about random property seizures, past the tank sitting in a fountain of oil and into the cold clammy basement filled with prison cells. Here you will see the torture racks, cells made so small a person couldn’t lay down or stand up and other torture devices that will make you disgusted with the evil of Humanity.
If what you seek is to become fully human then engaging in the tragic side of life is necessary. The humbling experience of visiting this museum will teach you that humans can be misled at times. When people buy into an evil idea and diffuse their individual responsibility through the goal and supposed higher aim of the collective there is no bounds to the destruction they are capable of. There are endless examples throughout history telling this story, but sometimes to really get the lesson you need to see if for yourself.