No, I am not having a nostalgic moment with the Beetle’s hit. Today is the anniversary of the 1848 Revolution when the Hungarians attempted to throw off the Hapsburgs control putting an end to the Austrio-Hungarian Empire.
The Hapsburgs liberated the Hungarians from Turkish rule in 1686 after the Turks had been here for 150 years. Though liberation was spelled with a small ‘l’ as Hungary did not become a free nation, but went from one set of hands to the other. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was established.
With revolution in the air all over Europe, the Hungarians were no exception. They were inspired by the writers and intellectuals of the time: Sándor Petőfi, a poet was one. He wrote the nation’s song and the 12 point demands of the Hungarian people. This is something children must still memorize in school today. Crowds gathered in front of the National Museum, where you can find a statue of Petőfi gracing the courtyard. Although they made some progress in their wishes, the Austrians later turned on them and executed the leaders of the protests.
Today, the fight continues, but no longer against the Austrians, but their own current government. There are many who do not like the state of affairs of the administation and protests, at times violent, break out through out the city on national holidays. The US Embassy sent out a warning of six places in the city that should be avoided due to the expectations of protesting and potential violence. Near us, Blaha Lujza square is a major meeting point at these times. Looking from our living room window, we could see a herd of police, but what looked like the general public milling around as normal. Here is hoping for peace.