A lesson of our fathers generation


My Dad died on Tuesday evening. I’ve been thinking about what I want to say at his memorial, and I was remembering the time he was interviewed by a newspaperman in Budapest about his experience in the uprising.

He was trying to make many of the same points this author does: that countries are not inherently good or bad, that acts of heroism or evil are performed by regular people, not heroes or villains, that fear and lies destroy society. As a child, he was saved once in wartime Budapest by a policeman shepherding a line of people to their deaths. During the Soviet occupation and the uprising, he saw many acts of cowardice and savagery by Hungarians, and acts of bravery by the young, confused Soviet infantrymen they confronted.

The reporter wasn’t hearing any of this. He wanted to talk about the heroes of the Revolution and their evil enemy. He had a narrative in his head, and was looking to Laci to flesh it out for him. That narrative is even now being used by the Hungarian government to buttress its fascist activity.

An important truth is being forgotten or paved over by the powers that be. We will have to relearn that truth without our fathers, or suffer their fate.

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