Speech

Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s speech at the 50th Anniversary of the Revolution and Freedom Fight of 1956 in Hungary 27 October 2006

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The Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight stands out as one of the most significant events during the Cold War. Our sympathy was with the Hungarian people and their courageous fight for freedom. I am truly pleased that freedom and democracy prevailed in the long run and that we are now partners in the EU and NATO. We have now joined forces in supporting the struggle for freedom and democracy in other parts of the world.

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Your Royal Highness,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1956 was a busy year in international politics. But 1956 will above all be remembered for the Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight.

Rarely has sympathy with a people been as deep-felt and sincere. The Hungarian people fought for basic rights – for freedom, democracy and human rights. The fight was a reminder that we must never take those rights for granted. The events in Hungary showed us that a people can rise in the attempt to gain freedom rights.

Unfortunately, the Hungarian people lost the first time around, but today the battle is won, and Hungary is again part of the European family.

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The Hungarian revolution was brutally crushed. The events ended tragically for Hungary and the Hungarian people.

Smoke screens were laid out and propaganda set up by the puppet government installed in Hungary by the Soviet Union.

The UN was charged with unravelling the threads of the affair. Bringing the real events to light. Learning from the dearly bought experiences from those fateful days.

On 10 January 1957 the UN General Assembly appointed a committee to uncover the events in Hungary. The Danish politician Mr. Alsing Andersen became chairman of the committee. The UN civil servant Mr. Povl Bang-Jensen one of it’s secretaries.

Mr. Bang-Jensen was a remarkable figure who also played an important role in the Danish Foreign Service. During the Second World War he cooperated with the renowned Danish diplomatic representative Mr. Henrik Kauffmann at the independent Danish legation in Washington. Already here Mr. Bang-Jensen demonstrated that he was ready to fight for freedom and justice.

During the UN Hungary investigations Mr. Bang-Jensen insisted that no stone be left unturned and that the Soviet Union be confronted with it’s criminal assaults.

In Mr. Bang-Jensen’s opinion the UN should not compromise on the injustice. But certain circles in the UN tried to avoid confrontation with Moscow. It led to a conflict between Mr. Bang-Jensen and the top levels of the UN. The conflict developed into a crisis and subsequently into a fierce confrontation. Mr. Bang-Jensen was transferred to another job.

The matter developed further. One of Mr. Bang-Jensen’s tasks for the committee had been to contact witnesses among the Hungarians that fled to the West. Many appeared anonymously in order to protect their families who had remained in Hungary.

After his transferral Mr. Bang-Jensen was ordered to hand over all UN documents in his possession. He refused to give up the list that revealed the real names of the witnesses. In the end, he even burned the list under dramatic circumstances.

This resulted in a sharp rebuke from the top levels of the UN. Mr. Bang-Jensen was fired from the UN.

Shortly afterwards – in November 1959 – Mr. Bang-Jensen was found shot with a revolver in a park in New York.

Mr. Bang-Jensen did his utmost to bring the truth to light. He fought all attempts to compromise and demonstrated the same courage and idealism as the Hungarian freedom fighters. For Mr. Bang-Jensen this fight ended tragically. He paid the highest price for holding on to his conviction that, as far as the report on the sufferings of the Hungarian people was concerned, there was no room for compromise or pragmatic considerations for the given balances of power.

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In the long run freedom won. With the Hungarian freedom fight the falseness of the communist propaganda and the brutality of the Soviet dictatorship was exposed once and for all. The basis was laid for the rise against the Soviet Union. In the Western countries the Moscow-faithful communist parties lost the last remnants of credibility in the eyes of the general public.

The Hungarian freedom fight was brutally suppressed, but the Hungarian people were not broken. The ideals survived those October days of 1956. They remained a beacon for the decades to come. Throughout the Cold War the Hungarians held on to their conviction and will power. Events have shown us that when a people so passionately want freedom, freedom will prevail.

Every human being and every people have a right to freedom. It is a universal and inalienable right. We have a duty to reach out to people who fight for a life in freedom and peace.

The Hungarian people tore itself free from communist suppression. And we are happy that Hungary is today member of the EU and NATO and once again part of the Europe where freedom, democracy and human rights are basic values.

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After the Soviet invasion of Hungary thousands of Hungarians fled to the West. More than a thousand came to Denmark.

I would like to take the opportunity tonight to thank you. Thank you, because you came with freedom as your ideal, with the dream of democracy as your luggage – and with an impressive will and ability to contribute to your new country. You have made a valued contribution to our country through the years. You have proven that integration can succeed – also in practice.

We think back to the terrible events in Budapest 50 years ago. We remember the many innocents who gave up their lives for freedom. But they did not die in vain. Their example set a beacon for coming generations. And they laid the basis for a free and democratic Hungary, with whom we Danes cooperate with great joy and pride on the development of the new and reunited Europe in freedom, peace and prosperity.