“The Russians are coming …”

Exhibition in Veszprém’s Lackó Dezső Museum

On 18 June, the date of the popular Night of Museums, a new temporary exhibition is opening at Veszprém’s Lackó Dezső Museum with the title From Liberation to Deliverance – Looking Back on the 20th Anniversary of the Withdrawal of Soviet Troops. The aim is to show the Soviet army and its soldiers, the individuals, who occupied and took possession of Hungary, becoming part of the country’s everyday life in the course of almost half a century. The stationing of the Southern Army Group in Hungary was undertaken in compliance with the agreement of the two governments. It was obligatory for the Soviet side to give notice of military exercises and manoeuvres on the territory of the Hungarian People’s Republic, but these were always undertaken in secret. Civilians were obliged to live with these circumstances. The clatter of machine guns from a shooting range would sometimes break into the conversation during a family dinner, and it was not unknown for cars to mount the pavement when faced with armoured military vehicles carrying soldiers proceeding in the wrong direction along a one-way thoroughfare. Nevertheless, according to eyewitness accounts relations between the Soviet military and civilians were not bad. They did deals, bartered and, most importantly, understood the necessities of each other’s fate. There were numerous occurrences which never became public. Contributing to this is that in historiography political history, historical narrative and the use of primary historical sources have been decisive, and thus the average person and the unknown soldier have been left out of official discourse. Yet their memories are present in the form of objects, each with a distinct history – but their stories still have to be told.