Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the Revolution and Fight for Freedom of 1956

For this special event, the OHCC was filled up in such a great number with participants that we had to turn away the late-comers in order to avoid exceeding the the legally established limit. This phenomenon has generated ambiguous feelings in us, the organisers. On one hand, we regretted the few that had to be turned away, on the other hand, we have rejoiced in the thought that so many cared enough to ensure their participation in a timely fashion.

Our ranks was honoured by the presence of Mr. Péter Szíjjártó, Hungary’s Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Kristóf Altusz, Deputy Secretary of State, Mr. Bálint Ódor, Hungarian Ambassador to Canada, Mr. Lászlo Sinka, First Secretary of the Hungarian Embassy in Canada, Mr. Péter Orosz, Consul of the Hungarian Embassy, and other staff members of the Embassy. Other guests from Ontario include Mr. János Szőke, President of the Niagara Hungarian Community Centre and companion, and from Toronto Mrs. Katalin Szabó, VP of the National Alliance of Hungarians in Canada.

The festive (commemorative) address has been delivered by Mr. Péter Szíjjártó, in which he reiterated each nation’s sovereign right to decide whom it intends to accept in its midst and with whom it is willing to co-habitate (live) in the long run. He also rejected some attempts in the media to equate the 1956 Hungarian immigration with the intruding mass movement overwhelming Europe at the present time. Hungary is and will continue to be grateful to Canada to have given safe haven to 37,400 Hungarian refugees in 1956. But, as the Minister brought it into prominence, those Hungarian refugees did not developed parallel societies, waited patiently for months, sometimes years in refugee camps, were grateful and appreciative for all the help they got, and had later contributed in a substantive manner to the prosperity of Canada. A survey done in 1960, three years after the first arrival, has found only 5 families on welfare payment out the more than thirty-seven thousand.

In 1956, this small nation has shown the world time and again that it is brave enough to oppose tyrany, that no sacrifice is large enough when it has to defend its liberty and existence.
A congratulatory message from Prim-Minister of Canada, Mr. Justin Trudeau, has been read by Mr. Tibor Lapohos, President of the OHCC.

From the part of the Freedom-fighters Mr. László Farkas, Mr. József Polgár, Mr. Ernő Szelepcsényi, Mr. Tibor Véghely and Mrs. Anna Mária Dupont has addressed the audience.

Mr. and Mrs. István Gaál, who recently moved to Calgary, but would so much wanted to be present at the celebration, have expressed their loyalty to their former home and community by subscribing a $5,000 donation to the OHCC. This noble gesture reinforces our commitment to uphold the ideals of 1956, for which so many had suffered and made the ultimate sacrifice.
Sometime, in the course of the evening, Mr. Béla Köntés has recited his versified chronicle of the pre- and post-1956 era.

In honour of the revolution, Ms. Éva András has assembled a collection of contemporary pamflets,newpaper cut-outs about the student’s fight and role in the events, about the evolving statements and involvement of government officials, about the stance of Hungarian intelligentsia, about the ad-hock Worker’s Councils, about the Soviet political and military deployment, about the newly formed political parties. This material was gleaned from the vast archives of the National Széchenyi Library, and it is aimed to illustrate the hopes and tragedy of the revolution, especially to those who had encountered it only in textbooks. The series will remain accessible in the OHCC.

As proof of the viability of this nation, a select cross-generational ensemble, the Csillagszeműek (Those with Starry Eyes), founded and lead by prominent Folk Dance Masters, Mr. Béla Timár and Mrs. Böske Timár, presented a phenomenal engaging performance of folk dance, from all four corners of the homeland. There was no difference in the mastery of the material and the reassurance and panache with which it was performed by the 6 years old boy or the 9 years girl, the late teenager or the young adult member. It took our breath away, and needless to say, we would love to have them back, anytime.

At the end of the evening, after father Daryold’s blessings, during the Last Post, sounded by Jessica Joanis, all those present bowed their head in memory of the fallen (heroes).

Fragments from the progam held at OHCC
(by Gábor Finta)

Part 1: Festive Program Part 2: Hungarian Folk Music and Dance by the „Csillagszeműek” Ensemble