On Wednesday night, Atilla Szalai, a great friend of Poland, Poles and Polish cultur,e passed away.
He was a member of the so-called hitchhiker generation of Hungarians. During a period that stretched over the course of 30 years, they would travel to Poland to experience forbidden adventures. After the anti-communist rising of 1956, travelling via hitchhiking in Hungary was forbidden, as were student clubs and public jazz concerts.
For many young Hungarians, a journey to Poland was an initiation event.
Owing to these experiences, entry into adulthood and the discovery of previously unknown freedoms was always associated with Polishness to their generation of Hungarians. They returned to Hungary full of energy and a huge amount of sympathy for Poland. Their unbreakable spirit meant that when the time came, they were on the front lines of the anti-communist opposition.
Atilla Szalai was one such person.