News

    Hungarians Have Mixed Feelings About Collapse of Communism

    Hungarians Have Mixed Feelings About Collapse of Communism
    Hungarians Have Mixed Feelings About Collapse of Communism

    Multimedia

    <!-- IMAGE -->

    The collapse of the Berlin Wall, in November, 1989, was preceded earlier that year by the opening of the Iron Curtain in Hungary. Now, 20 years later, a new survey by Ipsos - a global online research group - indicates only one Hungarian in five believes their country has changed for the better since 1989 and that 56 percent of Hungarians say their country has lost more than it gained since Communism collapsed.

    Economic hardship

    Hungary began dismantling the Iron Curtain in May, 1989. Nearly three months later, hundreds of East Germans who had crossed into Hungary continued on to Austria when Hungarian authorities opened the western border on August 19. For the first time, citizens of a Communist Eastern European country had escaped to the West without fear of being shot or risking their lives in mine fields that dotted the frontier.
     
    Former border guard Gyula Szemerics welcomes the freedoms won by Hungary, but says life after Communism has been filled with economic hardship.

    Szemerics says that now, as hardships come one after another, he feels - as a father - that things are getting worse and that the results Hungarians expected did not happen.

    Freedom has its price

    Zoltan Rezsnyak was 52 when the Iron Curtain collapsed. He worked as a machine fitter in a large textile mill in Budapest. Rezsnyak, a committed Communist, says he misses the security of those days. He says Hungary's new freedoms have come at the expense of the homeless and unemployed.

    Rezsnyak says Hungary today no longer subscribes to the idea of an eight-hour workday, followed by eight hours of play and eight hours of rest. He says people are working instead for 12, 14 and 16 hours, if they are working at all. There are 600,000 unemployed in Hungary.

    At the industrial complex where Rezsnyak worked, railroad tracks leading to the gate are overgrown with weeds. His former mill is showing signs of decay. Much of the complex has been privatized. Among those who bought a building there is 47-year-old entrepreneur Zsolt Cserhalmi. He is the owner of Plastiprint, a small business that produces signs and logos on T-shirts, cups, pens, and even beauty salon aprons.

    Cserhalmi says that, from a broader perspective, perhaps it is a pity such a big factory went bankrupt, but - from his point of view - it was good, because he was able to buy a building for a good price to run his business.

    Cserhalmi notes that his shop would have been impossible under Communism, which strictly prohibited private ownership of copying machines and printing presses.

    Cserhalmi notes everything he does is related to duplication, an activity that became free with a change in the system. He says that enabled access to materials and the whole printing industry became liberated.

    Benefits of collapse

    With the collapse of Communism, freedom exploded in Hungary. Hungarians can now vote in multiparty elections, travel abroad at any time and own property.

    Former border guard Gyula Szemerics says the free market system has not solved the country's social problems. Nonetheless, he welcomed the Communist collapse.

    Szemerics says Hungarians thought the change of government would turn their country into a land of milk and honey, but there is no milk and honey now. He is quick to add that, in comparison with what it was once like, at least Hungarians are now free.

    Most Hungarians agree. But a recent survey shows a majority of them believe they have lost more than they have gained since the Iron Curtain lifted, which means the dreams and aspirations of many Hungarians remain unfulfilled.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora