House of Terror in Budapest
House of Terror is a museum located at Andrássy út 60 in Budapest, Hungary. It contains exhibits related to the fascist and communist dictatorial regimes in 20th century Hungary and is also a memorial to the victims of these regimes, including those detained, interrogated, tortured or killed in the building.
The museum opened on February 24, 2002 and the Director-General of the museum since then has been Dr. Mária Schmidt.
The House of Terror is a member organisation of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience.
The museum was set up under the center-right government of Viktor Orbán. In December 2000 the Public Foundation for the Research of Central and East European History and Society purchased the building with the aim of establishing a museum in order to commemorate these two bloody periods of Hungarian history.
During the year-long construction work, the building was fully renovated inside and out. The internal design, the final look of the museum's exhibition hall, and the external facade are all the work of architect Attila F. Kovács. The reconstruction plans for the House of Terror Museum were designed by architects János Sándor and Kálmán Újszászy. The reconstruction turned the exterior of the building into somewhat of a monument; the black exterior structure (consisting of the decorative entablature, the blade walls, and the granite sidewalk) provides a frame for the museum, making it stand out in sharp contrast to the other buildings on Andrássy Avenue.
With regard to communism and fascism, the exhibition contains material on the nation's relationships to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. It also contains exhibits related to Hungarian organisations such as the fascist Arrow Cross Party and the communist ÁVH (which was similar to the Soviet Union KGB secret police). Part of the exhibition takes visitors to the basement, where they can see examples of the cells that the ÁVH used to break the will of their prisoners.
Much of the information and the exhibits is in Hungarian, although each room has an extensive information sheet in both English and Hungarian. Audio guides in English and German are also available.
The background music to the exhibition was composed by former Bonanza Banzai frontman and producer Ákos. The scoring includes the work of a string orchestra, special stereophonic mixes, and sound effects.
Visitors may not take photographs or use video cameras inside of the building. There is no reduced fee for ICOM members.
Former temporary exhibitions
- Paneuropean Picninc '89
- The Network - the World of Secret Agents in Hungary
- Áron Márton Memorial Exhibition
- Who was George Orwell?
- ˝The real 1984˝
- Famine in the Ukraine
- Hungarian Tragedy 1944 – Holocaust
- A Humanitarian amid Inhumanity - Raoul Wallenberg memorial exhibition
- Iniquity - children in the Holocaust
- Hungarian Tragedy 1945 – Woe to the vanquished! Forced into slavery
- Hungarian Tragedy 1946
- Pesti srácok 1956
- Hungarian Tragedy 1947
- Freedom under tha blanket – sex as a revolution 1968- 2008
- "Eltiport tavasz" – Prague 1968
- Katyn – genocide, politics, morality
- "Átvágva" – iron curtain, paneuropean picninc , regime chganging
- Lenin and Buddha – heritage of the communism beyond the Ural
- Hungarian Tragedy 1944-1945
Several historicians, journalists and political scientists such as Magdalena Marszovszky or Ilse Huber have argued that the museum portrays Hungary too much as the victim of foreign occupiers and does not recognize enough the contribution that Hungarians themselves made to the regimes in question as well. Critics have also bemoaned the fact that far more space is given to the terror of the communist regime than the fascist one. Answers to these critics generally revolve around the fact that, while the fascist regime of Ferenc Szálasi lasted only few months, the Hungarian Communist regime lasted for forty years. Mária Schmidt considers these debates to be primarily politically motivated attacks. Defenders of the museum also point out that several people who are subjects of the exhibition have ties to the Alliance of Free Democrats, such as Miklós Bauer, who is the father of the parliament member Tamás Bauer. Also, the parents of Iván Pető, prominent leader of the Alliance of Free Democrats in the early 1990s, were both ÁVH agents and are noted as such by the museum.
Controversies notwithstanding, the museum has been a popular tourist attraction, as shown by its many positive online reviews and large visitor numbers, more than 1000 people a day when it first opened in 2002. Schmidt has responded to criticisms of the museum’s political nature by saying "Is there anything in history that is not related to politics?"