Exhibition: 11 November- 6 December 2019

Living Memorial at Liberty Square

Living Memorial is a protest memorial facing the history-falsifying memorial erected by the Orbán-government on Szabadság tér (Liberty square) in downtown Budapest in 2014. Due to several protest movements, the official memorial (the Dead memorial, as activists call it), has never been inaugurated. The Living Memorial, the one that keeps the real memory of the suffering was imagined and brought to life by a small group of activists (artists, art historians, sociologists and other intellectuals) mobilizing the public opinion against the false propaganda of the official memorial, which aims to absolve the Hungarian state from its heavy responsibility in the Holocaust.

About 450 000 Hungarian Jews had been brought to Auschwitz or other concentration camps, and only a few survived: the deportation was organised with an active role of the Hungarian state and institutions. The Living Memorial is constituted of objects of personal memory placed on the square by inhabitants of Budapest or people coming even from abroad, for reminding the passers-by of the victims of the Holocaust and the role of the state in their fate.

The protest movement is symbolized by two white chairs because the Living Memorial also provides the site for public discussions: its activists believe that Hungarian people must engage in a real memory work of their history without keeping certain facts in silence. This aim is realized through open public discussions close to the spot of the Living Memorial organized in the afternoons. The topics of the discussions vary from Holocaust memories, family histories, to various social problems, like problems of the education system, health care, the biased electoral system, social housing system, social inequalities, the problems of the Roma, the state of cultural institutions, etc. Anybody can join in the discussions, take a seat on the dozens of white chairs set up in a big circle and take the microphone. The discussions are recorded and archived. A special system of moderation has been elaborated and is used for ensuring a peaceful course for the debates.

HUMMEL-HUMMEL / Júlia Sarlós

The tarnished silver cup was found among various other bric-a-bracs in the linen closet, when Vera Schleichers father moved to a different flat. Nobody remembered where it came from, but they did not want to throw it away, either, so Vera Schleicher took it with her. Once, when she was dusting it, the light fell upon it just so that she noticed an engraved inscription in Gothic lettering: Oberwarter Sonntags-Zeitung 1880–1904. Because of the patina, she initially thought that the first number was 1830.


HUMMEL-HUMMEL / Júlia Sarlós

Our mother’s cherished souvenir was a 7.5 cm tall metal statue called “Hummel”, the symbol of a German city, Hamburg.

The water-pipe system was introduced in Hamburg only after 1848. Before, water-carriers provided the city with water. One of them, Benz, happened to move into the flat of a deceased soldier, called Daniel Christian Hummel. The kids in the neighbourhood used to like the soldier very much, because he had told them stories. However, they were not very fond of the water carrier, so they mocked him and called him names, and these insults still survive among the people of Hamburg. Due to them, the water carrier’s figure has become the symbol of Hamburg.
When Julias mother could travel to Hamburg for the first time as an adult, she bought this little statue of the water-carrier. Placed next to her bed, it kept reminding her of her happy childhood. At her burial, Julias elder brother put the sculpture into the columbarium, and bought the “replacement statue”, which is now on display.

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