Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Terror of Bolgoslavia

Things I now know about 20th Century history in Budapest:

  • After the fall of communism, they turned the secret police HQ/Torture chambers into an amazing museum/art installation, called the House of Terror.
  • It includes a labyrinth made out of soap, celebrating their postwar economic collapse.
  • The smallest cell in the dungeons is the size of a vertical coffin.
  • Most of the cells have radiators. A sweet touch, until you realise people were chained to them.
  • There's a casual little array of torture implements set on a tiny table. By a big drain.
  • It's one of the most disturbing places I've ever visited.
  • It's also the least appropriate place I've ever been cruised. Dear god, man, couldn't you have tried it on in the Hall Of Propaganda, not in a blood-spattered padded cell?
  • The Soviets took most of Hungary's German population away as slave labour. Their definition of "German" included everyone whose surname ended with an "r". As that's what Hitler's name ended with.
  • A friend was renovating his flat, and discovered a forest of Soviet bugs hidden behind the plaster.
  • The Gellert Hotel used to be Nazi HQ. It now serves quite terrible cakes.
  • The House of Terror makes no mention of the Jews. But this is because it was built by a right wing party seeking to get reelected.
  • After a couple of days, you can navigate Budapest by the bullet holes left in the buildings.

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