"In memory of victims": Monument and counter-monument in Liberty Square, Budapest

  • Ágnes Erőss Geographical Institute, Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Keywords: monument, counter-monument, politics of commemoration, public space, contested space

Abstract

Conceived by the Hungarian government as a commemoration of the German occupation of Hungary and according to the inscription dedicated to the "memory of victims", the monument in Liberty Square has been a scene of protest against a prominent emblem of the right-wing Hungarian government. The protest has taken the form of a counter-monument that contests the official meanings of the government-sponsored composition and especially the notion it conveys depicting Hungary as a victim of German occupation. Whereas the official monument evokes traditional forms and its aesthetic is neo-classical, the counter-monument consists of ephemeral features such as gradually accumulated written messages and everyday artefacts, and it is constantly built up by protesters. The counter-monument not only challenges the adjacent official monument and its notion of Hungary as a victim of German occupation; importantly, it defies the legitimacy of the official conception of victimhood by direct references to the suffering of Hungarian Jews at the period. This paper explores the politics of commemoration at the contested memorial site with an emphasis on the dialectic relationship between the official monument and an adjacent counter-monument. Focusing on a contemporary case-study in the centre of the Hungarian capital, it offers insights into resistance and protest as geospatial features of the politics of public memory.

Published
2016-10-10
How to Cite
Erőss, Ágnes. (2016). "In memory of victims": Monument and counter-monument in Liberty Square, Budapest. Hungarian Geographical Bulletin, 65(3), 237-254. https://doi.org/10.15201/hungeobull.65.3.3
Section
Articles