The merciless events are remembered by the House of Terror

Vivi Bencze | Live the World

November 23, 2022

The 20th century contained a lot of horrors across Europe. The two world wars and cruelties of communism have left deep wounds in the Old Continent. This was also the exact case in Hungary, especially in Budapest, the vanguard of bridging obstacles, since my country never could be left out of the differences, due to its location. All of these merciless events are remembered by the House of Terror in Budapest, of which building was one of the main stages of the brutal acts suffered by the Hungarians over the past century. Nowadays, it is already a symbol: that the two most cruel systems of the century ended with the victory of freedom and independence.

It is common to say that the House of Terror finally points out the characters of our past - the victims and the perpetrators. It presents the seemingly inexpressible, and it gives the name to the unnameable. The House of Terror opened on the 24th of February 2002, and it is unique of its kind. It intends to commemorate our tortured and murdered compatriots in this very building to show what it meant to live for the affected Hungarians during those times, but it also exemplifies the fact that the sacrifices for the freedom are never in vain.

An actual collecting place and prison

The building of the House of Terror is situated on Budapest’s best-known avenue, Andrássy Street. The three-storey neo-renaissance edifice was built as a residential building in 1880. Later, in 1937, the rooms were rented by the new residents of the house - a group of the Hungarian National Socialist Movement political party, and this event predetermined the cruelties of the upcoming two decades, that the whole building became an eyewitness of. The building served as a headquarters of the mentioned movement, of which leader was Ferenc Szálasi, later pro-nazi war criminal, which is very ironic, considering that the owner of the building was the Jewish Community of Pest. Szálasi had been in jail between ’37 and ’40, and when released, he hastily tried to make his anti-Semitic party re-flourish. Since his supporters had not stopped organizing the meetings in the 60th Andrássy Street while he was in jail, Szálasi gave the building the name - the House of Loyalty. As a consequence of the Germans’ advance in the WWII, Szálasi’s party came to power in Hungary in 1944. By this time, the building already became an actual collecting place and prison, where everyone who resisted, and was considered an enemy, was detained and tortured, as well as in the Gozsdu Courtyard, which was a part of the ghetto during the Second World War.

In the spring of 1945, with the entry of the Soviet troops, the WWII and the rule of the pro-nazi party came to an end. The building in the 60th Andrássy Street received a new host. Gábor Péter, a leader of the political police that was supposed to secure the power of communists, specifically requested this house as the headquarters of the organization. At the same time, the transformation works also began due to the fact that the growing number of detainees could not be placed in the existing cells. Using the cellars of the surrounding buildings too, a complete cellar-labyrinth was formed at the Andrássy Street to generate enough rooms for the detainees. People who were proclaimed enemies of the communist regime were captured and tortured, then confessed and murdered here.

The former House of Loyalty, then the headquarters of the communist police, served as the centre of the state terror until 1956, the time of the Hungarian rebellion. Subsequently, the building was restructured, and then operated as an office building, and the headquarters of various companies. Every bloody trace in the basement got vanished and disappeared.

Today, in the exhibition centre of the 16-year-old House of Terror, in average, two periodic, large volume exhibitions are organized annually, with several permanent exhibitions. In addition, the institute gives a home to domestic and international conferences, as well as to so-called round-table discussions. Thus these merciless events are always remembered by the House of Terror.

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