Thirty years after the collapse of communism in Hungary, we visited the sites of its deleted totalitarian statues.
A memorial to Soviet soldiers that once towered over a central square in the eastern city of Debrecen (top). The monument originally featured the names of dead Red Army soldiers beneath a young family welcoming the Soviet Army into Hungary during World War II.
In 1993, the monument (on right in 2019 photo) was moved a few meters back from its central location, cut to a stumpier height, and the names of dead Red Army soldiers were removed. 1972 photo: Fortepan/Inkey Tibor
One prominent communist monument that has remained untouched is the Pantheon of the Labor Movement in Budapest’s Fiumei Road Graveyard. Scores of urns inside the crypt hold the ashes of prominent Hungarian communists, though most spaces today remain empty.
The inscription above the three figures says “They lived for communism and the people.” 1968 photo: Fortepan/Lechner Nonprofit Kft. Dokumentacios Kozpont
Lenin overlooking a central square in Komlo (top). After the monument was pulled down, the site stood vacant until 2000 when a coal mine in the town closed down and a beloved monument to child musicians at the mine was brought in to fill the empty plinth. The toppled Lenin statue was initially housed in a local museum before being bought by a private collector. 1962 photo: Fortepan/Magyar Pal
A limestone statue being unveiled on Stalin’s birthday in central Budapest (top). The inscription reads, “From the grateful Hungarian people to the great Stalin.” The statue was pushed off its plinth in 1956. A memorial to victims of the first Hungarian Revolution of 1848 stands in the spot today. 1949 photo: Fortepan/Magyar Rendor
Amos Chapple is a New Zealand-born photographer and picture researcher with a particular interest in the former U.S.S.R.