It all started with a question, one my parents had been unable to answer for 70 years. What happened to the French doctor they had taken in during the Russian siege of Budapest? He was an escaped prisoner of war. They were just trying to hang on. Together, they hid in a cellar, beneath the feet of German soldiers who had made the home their headquarters.San Francisco Journalist John Temple follows the threads of World War II into the present.
Last week, Berlin hosted the 5th Annual TRAM-EM European TramDriver Chanpionship (in English) (in German), with the best drivers from 27 cities competing and Budapest becoming the first two-time winner. In addition to the main competition for smoothness in starting and stopping and precision in stopping, they ran a side contest: TRAM BOWLING (longer videos).
The Head of the Hungarian Tax authority, Ildiko Vida, is suing the Charge d’Affaires at the United States embassy in Budapest, M. André Goodfriend, for defamation after it emerged that Ms Vida was one of six Hungarian officials banned from entering the United States over alleged corruption. This followed the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, saying that Ms Vida sould be relieved of her role if she did not undertake legal proceedings. US-Hungary relations have been strained for some time over the banning and were recently exacerbated by Senator John McCain's description of Hungary as "a nation that’s on the verge of ceding its sovereignty to a neo-fascist dictator". While Budapest awaits the arrival of the recently confirmed US Ambassador, Colleen Bell,(former producer of the The Bold and the Beautiful and fund raiser for President Obama) FIDESZ's popularity has fallen dramatically in recent months. A large protest march is planned (link in Hungarian) for this Sunday. . This follows large scale protests in October when the Hungarian government announced an Internet tax.
The Association of Hungarian Jewish Congregations (MAZSIHISZ), has announced that it is boycotting government-sponsored events to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust. This decision follows recent controversies over how the government of Viktor Orbán is choosing to mark the anniversary. [more inside]
The Complaints Choir phenomenon, started by the Finnish artists Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, has spread all over the world since last we paid it any attention, from Birmingham to Helsinki, Hamburg, St. Petersburg, Poikkilaakso, Bodø, Penn State, Canada, Juneau, Gabriola Island, Sointula, Jerusalem, Melbourne, Budapest, Malmö, Chicago, Florence, Copenhagen, Vancouver (2), Philadelphia, Sundbyberg, Milano, Åland, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Rotterdam, Basel, Umeå, Ljubljana, Gdansk, Arizona State University, Washington, DC, Horace Mann School, Durham-Chapel Hill, Auckland, Toronto theatre students, Kortrijk, Cairo (2), St. Pölten, Maribor, Port Coquitlam, Ústí nad Labem, Columbus & Kauhajoki (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). For more information, including a 9 step guide to forming your own complaints choir, go to the Complaints Choir website. Finally, here's the Singapore Complaints Choir, whose performance was banned by the Singapore government.
Fortepan is a collection of 4973 found amateur photos sourced mainly in Budapest. Pick a year and browse - photos are organized in chronological order from 1900 to 1990, accessible via a slider. "Users are encouraged to use, copy, send to friends, clip or paste the photos, which are free for they are not our property." (via Szanalmas, sometimes nsfw)
Fiddle, accordion, and a singing drummer. Seven minutes and fifty seven seconds of Gypsy music from Ukraine, live in Budapest. The real thing. Totally wailing. Kickass. Técső Banda at Kertem.
Looking for a little something to do come August? Haul yourself from from Budapest to Yerevan in a "minimal assistance" rally they're calling the Caucasian Challenge. Our idea of a tricked out and dependable race vehicle is an old Soviet Lada with fuzzy dice.
Learn the Truth is an excellent (Flash) presentation on the years after Stalin's death in Poland and Hungary. There's also a plain HTML version.
How do you say, "I have a gub" in Hungarian? (registration or video viewing required) Attila Ambrus, the handsome, courtly Whiskey Robber of Budapest, shares his tale with Salon, and what a yarn it is! After fleeing his native Romania beneath a train, Ambrus was variously a pelt-smuggler, Zamboni-wrangler, world-class hockey failure, gravedigger, and dog-walker, until he found his true calling in 1993: relieving banks of their cash. Then the story gets interesting, involving bad disguises, flowers for the bank tellers, a nervous stomach, a prison break via knotted bedclothes, and pursuit by his own Lieut. Columbo. It all added up to folk heroism for "Chicky Panther," until they put him away in Hungary's maximum security slammer, where he languishes today. Now he's talking, and Hollywood's listening.
Terrorháza [Flash]. Having survived two terror regimes, it was felt that the time had come for Hungary to erect a fitting memorial to the victims, and at the same time to present a picture of what life was like for Hungarians in those times. A tour of the Terror Musuem at 60 Andrássy út in Budapest. After the introduction, proceed to the Exhibition link.