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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs