Nagy Imre Memorial House

  The exhibition and the restoration of the Memorial House was realised in 2008, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the execution of the martyr prime minister. The exhibition is designed by architect László Rajk and texts are written by historian András Mink.

  In the basement screening room the 56 minute long award winning documentary “Hot Autumn” by Judit Kóthy and Judit Topits is shown. On demand, further documentary films and private footages on the revolution, the person of Imre Nagy, his trial and after-life are available too.
  In the lobby, visitors are greeted by the photograph of Imre Nagy, here blown to life-size, taken by the famous Austrian photographer Erich Lessing in front of the building in August 1956.
  On the walls of the exhibition area replicas of Prime Minister Imre Nagy’s hand-written papers in Hungarian, German and Russian alternate with reliefs representing the objects and furniture of the one-time family home.
  The life and after-life of Prime Minister Imre Nagy is told on the four projection tables. Each table consists of three bands, each made up of three layers. The story is told in chapters from left to right, from top to bottom, in a chronological order:

Table 1 – 1896–1945
    Kaposvár, 1896–1915. World War I and prisoner of war, 1915–1917. Civil war and returning home, 1917–1921. Back in Kaposvár, 1921–1923. In the illegal communist movement, 1924–1928. Emmigré in Vienna, 1928–1929. Moscow in the 1930s, 1930–1934. Imre Nagy in Comintern, 1934–1941. World War II and his second return home, 1941–1944.

Table 2 – 1945–1956
    The land distributing minister, 1944–1945. The beginning of Rákosi’s dictatorship, 1945–1949. The Minister for Farm Deliveries, 1949–1953. Stalin’s death, 1953. Imre Nagy’s first government and the „New Course”, 1953–1954. Fighting the Rákosi clique, 1954–1955. Rákosi’s return to power, Imre Nagy relieved of his post, 1955. In opposition, 1955–1956. Signs of the imminent revolution, June-September 1956.

Table 3 – 1956–1958
    The break-out of the revolution, 6–23 October 1956. “Imre Nagy for Head of Government!”, 23–24 October 1956. Failure to restore order, 24–28 October 1956. The short-lived victory of the revolution, 29–31 October 1956. Consolidation in the shadow of the Soviet intervention, 1–3 November 1956. Crushing the revolution, Imre Nagy in Snagov, 22 November 1956 – 14 April 1957. Preparing for the trial, January 1957 – 9 June 1958. The trial and sentence, 9–15 June 1958.

Table 4 – 1958–1989 after-life
    The theoretical, political and moral legacy of Imre Nagy. Reactions to the trial. Western emigrant circles. Cenotaph in Pčre Lachaise. The decade of suppression. The opposition movement and 1956. The beginning of the change of the regime. Reburial and rehabilitation, 1989.

(Visitors can surf the texts and illustrations by moving their hands over the red sensor buttons. The buttons operate with a three-second delay.)

  In the glass display cases next to the projection tables belongings of Imre Nagy and other contemporary objects are exhibited.
  On two television screens the exhumation of Imre Nagy and the other martyrs in 1989, the funeral ceremony on Heroes’ Square 16 June 1989 and their reburial in plot 301 in the Municipal Cemetery of Rákoskeresztúr can be seen. (The films were made by Black Box and the Hungarian Television)
  On the table in the centre of the exhibition area, the events of the 1956 revolution in Budapest can be followed on the contemporary map of Budapest from day to day and from scene to scene with the help of similar sensors as on the projection tables.
  On the veranda, the English version of the exhibition is available on computer. Here visitors also can listen to the entire recording of the Nagy trial, and watch the interviews with Imre Nagy Award winners.
  On the walls, pictures illustrating the history of the building at 43, Orsó utca are presented. In the wall-mounted glass case publications and books related to Imre Nagy are displayed while in the other the publications of the Imre Nagy Foundation on the 1956 revolution and Imre Nagy are shown. These publications are on sale in the House.
  Photographs on the staircase walls include several made by Imre Nagy himself of house inside and outside as well as of his official prime ministerial car. The other photos are of Imre Nagy with Mihály Károlyi in 1949, of social democrat politician Anna Kéthly, Small Holders’ Party politician Árpád Szabó and of Imre Nagy in his office in the building of the Parliament as Speaker in 1947.
  In the Memorial Room on the first floor, Nagy’s study as Prime Minister is reconstructed with his family photos and several personal objects. Part of the library belonged to the Prime Minister, the rest comes from the libraries of journalist Pál Lőcsei and Sándor Haraszti (courtesy of their heirs). The contemporary radio set plays Imre Nagy’s harrowing speech at the trial, delivered under the privilege of last say.

THE HISTORY  OF THE HOUSE

The villa was designed by Lajos Kozma, a famous architect at that time, in the early 1930s as a typical piece of Kozma’s and the Bauhaus style. The house is a typical both for the era and of the style of the architect.

The two-storey building includes a caretaker’s flat as well as a separate servants’ house in the garden. In 1932 it was purchased by painter Margit Pogány for 42 thousand pengős. During World War II attorney Áron Gellért and his wife lived there with four servants. Surviving persecution, the original Jewish owners returned to their home in 1945, but later emigrated to Australia.
Imre Nagy (then speaker of the Parliament) and his wife, Mária Égető moved in the house in 1949 as tenants of the state-owned villa, and paid the rent throughout the time they lived there. The house at that time consisted of a caretaker’s flat in the basement, a living room, bedroom, kitchen and winter garden on the ground floor and two bedrooms and a study on the first floor. Rozália Sáringer (Szabó), Imre Nagy’s mother lived in the little house in the garden.

Ime Nagy wrote in this house his important studies and the famous government program in 1953, and, after his removal from the political and public life in 1955, the first criticism of the regime and several oppositional polemical essays, the copies of which were distributed in secret. Some of the most important politicians, artists and public figures came here to visit him, for instance on 6th June 1956to celebrate Imre Nagy’s 60th birthday, which was denounced in a decree by the dictatorship as an „oppositional demonstration”. This house offered a place for open and humane dialogue and discussion even in the hardest times of dictatorship.

Prime Minister Imre Nagy was executed in 1958. His wife, returning from her deportation in Romania, was not allowed to move back in her home, and Imre Nagy’s mother was made to leave the garden house too. Until as late as the early 1990s, the state-owned villa was used by diplomatic corps.
In June 1989, Tibor Méray, an emigrant of the 1956 revolution living in Paris suggested in an article in the Paris-based Irodalmi Újság to set up an Imre Nagy Memorial House in the villa.

„It is this house he left at night 23 October to go to the Parliament to speak to the hundreds of thousands of people waiting for him, and to uphold the cause of the revolution as prime minister. It is in this house that he spent his last nights as a free person in Hungary before the Soviet intervention on 4 November. This house is part of the history of Hungary. It is the symbol of progress, independence, hardships, righteous ideas and invincibility of people faithful to their principles. I propose that after the solemn and unforgettable funeral on 16th July of Imre Nagy and of all the martyrs of the revolution, the villa at 43 Orsó street be made the Imre Nagy Memorial House – a place of pilgrimage to pay respect to the prime minister of the Hungarian revolution and the cause of 1956.
Paris, Irodalmi Újság 1989, issue 3
Tibor Méray

   

The memorial plaque (erected by the district branch of the Alliance of Free Democrats and inaugurated by President of the Republic Árpád Göncz) reads: „This house is part of Hungarian history. Imre Nagy, the Prime Minister of the 1956 revolution and freedom fight lived and worked here from 2nd November 1949 to 4th November 1956.”
In summer 1989 Erzsébet Nagy, Imre Nagy’s daughter and her friends set up the Imre Nagy Foundation to help create the Memorial House but real work could not begin before the necessary government decree was passed in 1997.
After renovations (financially supported by all current governments of the Republic of Hungary), headed by János Vészi, Erzsébet Nagy’s second husband, the Memorial House was opened for the public in 2002. The original owners of the villa visited the Memorial House and, in a note in the visitors’ book, expressed their satisfaction with the exhibition dedicated to the memory of the martyr prime minister.
In 2008, 50 years after Prime Minister Imre Nagy was executed, granddaughter Katalin Jánosi initiated and organised the full renovation of the Memorial House, including the setting up of interactive exhibition on the life and career of Imre Nagy as well as the Memorial Room, designed by architect László Rajk, and written by historian András Mink.
As the renovation was financed by the government from public funds, we wish to thank the people of Hungary for helping to create the Memorial House in the one time home of the martyr Prime Minister to provide a place consecrated to the memory of Imre Nagy and the 1956 revolution and freedom fight.

 

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THE MEMORIAL HOUSE – PICTURE GALLERY

OUR FAMOUS  VISITORS

”The day of 16. June 1989 did justice to Imre Nagy. Yet preserving his justice and making it understood by the posterity is imperative. I was impressed when I saw the former exibition – now I congratulate on this new one, because it will surely get through to the new generations.”


László Sólyom (President of the Rebublic)
22. October 2008.

 


”The renewed Memorial House should be the chapel of democracy not just for those with memories, but for the new generations as well.”


Zsolt Semjén (Member of Parliament)
On the 22th of October 2008. Eve of worthy commamoration


”Moved and reinforced by the courage of those who set up the Imre Nagy Memorial House , I thank them for this institution pointing in the future while reminiscing of the Prime Minister and member of Academy.”

József Pálinkás (Chairman of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences)
23. October 2008.


”Memory is not for its own sake. With the power of confrontation it helps to distinguish beetwen good and bad.  Imre Nagy found his and his nation’s right way and he stuck to it at the expense of his life.  We pay respect to his greatness with a deep bow.”

Ferenc Gyurcsány (Prime Minister)
23. October 2008.


”Now this is a treat! It is more beautiful by its openness and richer by its convicing power than anyone could have dreamt of.
Here’s a confession: It’s about fifty years ago that I had been here for the first time. Aunt Maca opened the door and we talked with Uncle Imre endlessly, bitterly, almost hopelessly. Now that I could walk again throughout this house I felt them walking beside me. Good bless their memory!”

Tibor Méray (writer)
April 2009.

 

”Deeply moved, but aware of the weight of the sacrfice I am leaving this place with upraised heart. Even on a day like this, marked by the grievous personal tragedies, one can say that without his prime minister geste of joining his nation and taking fate with responsability and commitment, we might not be free today in either our individual or national existence. Thank you, with all respect.”

Viktor Orbán (Prime Minister)
4. November 2012.


”You can imagine my emotions when coming back to the house my father built in ’33-34. I used to live in this house with my sister, mother, father until May 1940, when we emigrated to Australia. I feel honoured that Nagy Imre chose this house when he became Prime Minister and fought for freedom until his execution in 1958. I wish this house a very long life!”

András Forgács
6. September 2005.



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360° PANORAMA

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MTA Imre Nagy Memorial House
43. Orsó street, H-1026 Budapest
Phone/fax: +36-1-392-5011, +36-1-392-5012

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