The holidays and occasions when we can collectively remember fate-changing events and heroic actions are important in the life of every nation because they have a great power to preserve the nation. On 22 October, the Hungarian National Museum, the Committee of National Remembrance and the Polish Institute jointly commemorated the 1956 War of Independence and its heroes with an open-air photo exhibition, as well as the acts of solidarity of our friendly neighbouring country, Poland, read the Hungarian National Museum's press release sent to our newspaper.

People interested at the opening of the open-air photo exhibition "Hope and Drama - Hungary '56" in the Museum Garden on 22 October 2022 (Photo: Hungarian National Museum)

Within the framework of the program, the Hungarian National Museum and the Committee of National Remembrance signed a long-term agreement on professional and scientific cooperation. The open-air photo exhibition "Hope and Drama - Hungary '56" is an important – and symbolic – opening of the joint work. An opportunity to get to know the recent past better, to show the friendship of the Polish and Hungarian people, and the commitment to community and solidarity between the two peoples. To tell a common story again, giving history a face.

Speaking about the Polish aspect of the exhibition, László L. Simon, the Director General of the Hungarian National Museum, emphasised: Hungarian history is closely linked to Polish history. As he said, they are proud of the fact that the so far latent photo series, known to few people, documenting the events of the Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence will be sent to the National Museum, the institution that houses the largest photo collection in Hungary and one of the most valuable historical photo collections in Europe. He also emphasised that the goal of the cooperation with the Committee is to reveal everything that happened to the Hungarian nation between 1945 and 1990 through conferences, exhibitions, and scientific publications.

The black-and-white pictures bring to life the events that took place on the streets of Budapest. The originals of the photos presented at the exhibition were taken by an unknown Polish person (Photo: Committee of National Remembrance)

Dr Csaba Latorcai, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Deputy Minister for Regional Development emphasised in his opening speech of the exhibition: The Polish students were right: the Hungarians deserved respect and glory. They earned respect in 1956 when they stood up to Soviet superiority. They deserved respect in 1989 when the Iron Curtain was torn down and the gates were opened to the East Germans. They earned respect in 2015 when they protected the states of Western Europe from illegal immigration. And they still deserve respect today - instead of blackmail and verbal attacks.

In her speech, the President of the Committee of National Remembrance, Réka Földváryné Kiss, reminded the visitors: "The fate of Poles and Hungarians has been intertwined many times throughout history, this is especially true for the last two centuries. 1956 stands out among these historical moments, 1956 is a symbol of freedom for the peoples of both nations and even the entire Soviet bloc.

Sebastian Kęciek, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Budapest, and Réka Földváryné Kiss, President of the Committee of National Remembrance, at the opening of the photo exhibition organised on the occasion of the 66th anniversary of the 1956 revolution and war of independence (Photo: MTI/Márton Mónus)

The open-air photo exhibition brings to life the events that took place on the streets of Budapest, and the large black-and-white images evoke the traces of armed clashes. The originals of the photographs presented in the exhibition were taken by an unknown Polish person who was in Budapest for some reason in October 1956. They were not a professional photojournalist, they immortalised history as an amateur, as an interested party, with the eyes of a foreigner but on the side of the Hungarians who rose.

The pictures were kept by the Leśniak Family, and after decades of hiding them, in 2021 Mirosław Leśniak offered the pictures for presentation to the National Museum in Szczecin and then decided to return the pictures to Hungary and gave them as a present to the Committee of National Remembrance.

Regarding the fate of the pictures, the Committee decided to place them in the most worthy place, in the historical photo archive of the Hungarian National Museum. At the festive event, Réka Földváryné Kiss, the President of the Committee, in the presence of Mr Leśniak, handed over the original pictures to the Director General of the Hungarian National Museum, to László L. Simon.

The exhibition awaits visitors in the Museum Garden until 27 November 2022.

Source: Hungarian National Museum

Cover photo: The "Hope and Drama - Hungary '56" outdoor photo exhibition's location is the Museum Garden (Photo: MTI/Márton Mónus)