Nothing is ever gained by denying reality

Budapest memorial

“You can’t heal what you don’t acknowledge.”.  So concluded the much-travelled Captain Kirk.

This goes for nations as well as individuals, whatever part of the galaxy you may find yourself in.  But to admit reality is always the first step to freedom.

However, it may well be painful.

This Monday, as I blogged last week, I was in Budapest, about to return home.  As we walked across Freedom Square we were drawn to an impressive water feature, which had drawn a sizeable number of people in the hot sunshine.

In fact, it was part of an impressive monument in vivid white, stone clearly very recent, depicting the Nazi occupation of Hungary and subsequent holocaust in 1944.

This featured archangel Gabriel (I later discovered) about to be attacked by a fearsome eagle with its talons drawn, presumably representing the German aggressor.

Some of the pillars alongside had been broken off – I assumed an integral part of its design.  But then I realized that many of the people were not playing but protesting.  There was a makeshift notice telling the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, to tear down his monument.  Some demonstrators had already started on the pillars.

Their reason?  For this monument, in all its splendour was seeking to rewrite history.

Hungary was not invaded by the Nazi; the Hungarian government had decided to ally with the Germans in 1940, albeit under pressure from Hitler.   Furthermore, as our visit to the Holocaust Museum made clear, the terror inflicted on the large Jewish population needed the active participation of many Hungarians.

A café awning in central Budapest reads “things of the past live always with us.”