We must come to a consensus as a society that the victims of the Soviet occupation deserve a memorial / monument that is personal, concise and worthy of their memory. If the memorial is not to be located at Szabadság Square, it nonetheless must be placed somewhere in Budapest. And may its meaning be one that is living, comprehensible and heritable. That was the consensus reached among the participants of the series of open forums held in this year memorializing the Soviet-deported political prisoners and forced laborers, as summarized by the forum’s moderator, Attila Pók, professor of history and Academic Advisor for the Institute of History, Research Center for the Humanities at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
On the occasion of the memorial year (which was to run until February 25th, 2017), the GULAG-GUPVI Memorial Committee, chaired by Zoltán Balog, Minister of Human Capacities, had held its first meeting in October last year. The participants, mainly historians, had come to a consensus that the goal of the Gulag Memorial Year should be to shine a light on what was political propaganda, thereby differentiating it from fact, and to erect a memorial to all those who, during the “decades of propaganda”, could not share their stories about what had happened to and with them.
The GULAG Memorial Committee had extended an invitation to Sándor Szakály, Director of the VERITAS Research Institute for History, and two members of the VERITAS Board of Advisors: György Haraszti and Róbert Hermann, professor of history and President of the Hungarian Historical Society to participate in the forum. All three had done so in the first public forum in October, as well as in the second one, held on January 27th, 2016.