House of Terror, Budapest

I arrived late afternoon in Budapest, and after a very warm welcome and dinner at my hosts Eszter and Kati’s flat in the old inner city of Pest, we took an evening walk. My very first “sight” was this monument to the victims of torture outside the “House of Terror” museum, which stands next to a segment of the Berlin wall representing freedom after 1989. My host Eszter Csobolny very much wanted me to see the museum over the weekend, established in 2002, and is a member of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience. The museum tells the story of the horrors perpetrated by both the Nazis and the Soviets (moreso the latter). (We didn’t manage to go inside with our packed agenda – I hope to go back when I am in Budapest in January.) The site originally housed the secret police of the Nazi regime, followed by the Soviets. The brutality experienced by the Hungarian people as their history swung between Communist and Fascist extremes is difficult for us as Americans to comprehend fully. Jews suffered terror and anti-Semitic persecution throughout this horrendous history. From Wikipedia: “Several historians, journalists and political scientists such as Magdalena Marszovszky or Ilse Huber have argued that the museum portrays Hungary too much as the victim of foreign occupiers and does not recognize enough the contribution that Hungarians themselves made to the regimes in question as well. Critics have also bemoaned the fact that far more space is given to the terror of the communist regime than the fascist one.” Like Austria, Hungary finds it difficult and painful to own its own responsibility for the atrocities of the Holocaust, as well as the Soviet regime. For more details, and to judge for yourself, see


About pcooperwhite

Christiane Brooks Johnson Professor of Psychology and Religion, Union Theological Seminary, New York NY
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