House of Terror – Budapest

The House of Terror (Terror Haza) is one of those places you wish you did not have to visit. However, to get an understanding of Budapest in the twentieth century it is important that you go.

The museum is housed in the building that was used by both the Hungarian Cross Party (the Hungarian Nazis) and the secret police of the communists, the AVO and AVH. The irony being that the building itself is on one of the most beautiful streets in Budapest.

You know that you have reached the building when you see the platform on top. It has the word terror stamped into it along with the symbols of the Arrow Cross Party and the Communists.

As I waited to enter the building I noticed the photos on the side. I thought it was curious until I noticed the photo of Imre Nagy. It was then that I realised these people who had been tortured and executed in the building.

Once inside the building you take the elevator up to the second floor. The museum starts with the period around World War 2 and the Hungarian Cross Party. As you move through the rooms you see the fall of the Cross Party and the rise of the Communists.

Each room exhibits are well detailed with lots to see and read. There is also a A4 sheet that you can take that gives a detailed breakdown of what happened at the time. What I liked about the museum was the way it showed how everyday Hungarian life was affected especially during the rule of the Communists.

You make your way down from the second floor to the first floor. At the end of the first floor you wait for the elevator to take you down to the basement.

This is the slowest elevator ride you will ever take. As you go down a video is played to you. It is a former guard describing the process of taking a prisoner to execution. When the elevator stops you are in the basement. It contains the rooms of torture as well as the cells. Immediately I felt very cold. There is no other way to describe the floor but bleak. Inside each cell you can see photos of people who were held there.

Finally, you reach a small room. This contains the scaffold used for executing prisoners.

For a swift execution you needed to rely on the strength of the hangman. I could only think of the suffering as the prisoners were strangled.

You slowly make your way back up to the ground floor passing some old Soviet style statues.

The one memory I have from my visit to the House of Terror is the silence. Nobody felt like talking to each other. Sitting in a nearby coffee house I could only be thankful that I had gained an understanding of what happened in Hungary and that it should never be repeated. As Attila Jozsef is quoted in the leaflet “The past must be acknowledged.”

House of Terror, Andrassy utca 60, Budapest.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.