After spotting a Soviet flag waving in the European Union quarter of Brussels, Hungarian Ambassador Tamás Iván Kovács took to social media to share a photo of the flag and question why someone in 2020 would celebrate a symbol of mass murder and oppression right in the heart of the EU.
“Today in #Brussels’ #EU-quarter (we’re in 2020(!)) I never understood the glorification of #Communism, a failed system guilty of mass murder and all those #CCCP and #CheGuevara T-shirts in Western Europe… Haven’t they learnt from #Hungary 1956 and Central European #history?!?” wrote Kovács on Twitter.
Today in #Brussels’ #EU-quarter (we’re in 2020(!)) I never understood the glorification of #Communism, a failed system guilty of mass murder and all those #CCCP and #CheGuevara T-shirts in Western Europe…Haven't they learnt from #Hungary 1956 ?? and Central European #history?!? pic.twitter.com/Afl0S6PUYO
— Tamas Ivan Kovacs (@tamasivankovacs) June 24, 2020
Kovács, who spoke to Remix News in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the Hungarian government, noted that it was the first Soviet flag he has seen since he came to Brussels, but has come across “many bizarre and/or revolting political statements, flags, posters, etc. during over a decade living in Brussels.”
“But I was really taken aback by the sight of a Soviet flag on what seemed to be a private house in the middle of Brussels EU quarter when I was heading out for lunch with a friend, literally just a few hundred meters from the headquarters of the main EU institutions,” Kovács related. “This was my first, and hopefully the last Soviet flag sighting in Brussels.”
‘The Soviet flag is the hated symbol of Soviet occupation’
Although the Soviet flag does not provoke the same shock that a Nazi flag for many Western Europeans, Kovács said that for those in Central Europe who suffered the horrors of communism, both symbols are equally despised.
“As someone from Central Europe, to me the Soviet flag is no better than a Nazi flag. Both are symbols of brutal and murderous dictatorships guilty of killing millions and millions of innocent human beings,” emphasized Kovács.
“To me as a Hungarian, the Soviet flag is the hated symbol of Soviet occupation of my country which lasted until I graduated high school. It is the despised flag of an evil superpower who crushed the 1956 Hungarian revolution and killed my compatriots who wanted freedom and democracy.”
Approximately one million Hungarians were killed, imprisoned, or deported by Soviet authorities, etching deep scars in the country.
On Feb. 25 of every year, Hungary honors the memory of the victims of communism, which is the same day in 1947 that Béla Kovács, a symbolic figure of Hungary’s multi-party system, was arrested and deported to the Soviet Union on fabricated charges of treason. Hungary also uses Feb. 25 to commemorate the 100 million victims of communism who perished globally.
It is not just the issues of one Soviet flag for Kovács, but a general trend of acceptance towards communist symbols: “I never understood the glorification of Communism, a failed political system guilty of mass murder and all those ‘CCCP’ and Che Guevara T-shirts in Western Europe.”
Although it is not that long ago that Central Europe experienced the horrors of communism, there are many leftists in Western Europe who seem to glorify the ideology.
“I believe it should be an equal outrage apportioned to flying the Soviet flag as to the Nazi flag and it should never be acceptable for the reasons regarding what it represented. To me, the extreme left should not be more palatable and tolerated than the extreme right by any means,” warned the Hungarian ambassador.
“I am very concerned about recent developments such as the erection of a new Lenin statue, whitewashing Marx’s legacy or romanticizing about the disastrous Communist ideals by some in Western Europe,” he continued.
As statues from celebrated intellectuals, leaders and freedom fighters are toppled across Western Europe and the United States, a statue of communist leader Vladimir Lenin was erected in Germany just last week.
Kovács told Remix News that his remarks on the flag were made on his personal Twitter account and do not represent official communications from the Hungarian government. While his account does feature his own personal observations, including regarding his experiences as ambassador for Hungary accredited to Luxembourg and Belgium, much of it is also dedicated to issues related to his homeland and Brussels, the city where he currently resides.
Central Europe suffered greatly under communist repression
Hungary is not the only country in the region to suffer under communism. The Czech Republic also makes it a priority to commemorate victims of the communist regime to avoid forgetting the painful part of its history. On Aug. 21 of every year, Czechs honor the victims of the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, which led to the consolidation of communist control in the country.
Czechs, like many who lived in Central Europe, also faced extreme restrictions on religious freedom. The Church, considered hostile by the communists as it represented traditional values, was targeted by Soviet authorities. In April 1950, communists launched Operation K, which caused the destruction of Czech monasteries basically overnight.
In Poland, Soviet NKVD forces murdered 20,000 officers, clergy members, and intellectuals in the 1940 Katyn forest in a massacre that the communist government blamed on the Nazis for decades. Approximately a million Poles were deported to Siberia between 1939 and 1941 and approximately half perished while working in forced labor camps. Around 55 percent of deportees were women.