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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Hungary, Lesson 23 - Day of the Independent Hungary
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Hungary Series at HungarianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Hungarian holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 23, Day of the independent Hungary. In Hungarian, it’s called a független Magyarország napja.
From March 19, 1944 until June 19, 1991, 50,000 Soviet soldiers were stationed in Hungary. To learn the reason of this long presence, and to know how Hungarians today celebrate the departure of the last Soviet soldier in 1991, listen to this lesson, which is about the Day of the Independent Hungary.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
How many railway cars were needed to take the whole Soviet army out of Hungary?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
In the years 1944-45, when the Red Army helped free Europe of Nazi domination, they also invaded Hungary. According to the 1947 Treaty of Paris, Soviet troops were allowed to stay in Hungary temporarily. Despite the presence of the Soviet army in Hungary becoming pointless in 1955, the troops stayed because they were the most effective tool for forcing the socialist countries to stay together. Khrushchev also used these forces against Hungary during the revolution of 1956.
A new situation presented itself at the end of the 80s, when the main secretary of the Soviet party, Gorbachev, came to power; his reforms started changes among the systems of Eastern Europe. They began to take the Soviet military force of 50,000 soldiers out of the country. The political events of 1989, like the demolition of the Iron Curtain and the proclamation of the Republic of Hungary on October 23, 1989, hastened the pull-out of the soldiers, with the last Soviet soldier crossing the Hungarian border on June 19, 1991. It was the first time in 47 years that no foreign troops were stationed in Hungary.
Since 1991, June 19 has been celebrated as the Day of the Independent Hungary. As it isn’t technically a public holiday, Hungarians celebrate the departure of the Soviet soldiers on the last weekend of June. For example, in the capital Hungarians hold a party, or összejövetel, called Budapesti Búcsú, where outdoor concerts, or szabadtéri koncertek, await the audience with both classical and popular music. At the same time a wreath-laying ceremony is held for the prime minister, Imre Nagy, who was executed in 1958.
The former Soviet barracks, which today are overrun and weed-infested, stand like ghost towns. However, they are ironically also enjoyed by people who like to play war games, or in Hungarian harci játékok. Mostly paintball, or paintball and airsoft gun companies operate in the barracks now, where people can experience the excitement of a gun-fight first hand.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
How many railway cars were needed to take the whole Soviet army out of Hungary?
For the pull-out of the nearly 100,000 soldiers and civilians, the 27,000 pieces of weaponry and the hundreds of thousands of tons of materials, around 35,000 railway cars were needed.
Did you like this lesson? Did you learn any interesting facts?
Do you have any days celebrating the independence of your country?
Leave us your comments at HungarianPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson.