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Archive for Sunday, November 2, 2003

House of Terror museum prompts Dole warning

November 2, 2003

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— Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole warned that future generations should never forget how dictatorial regimes used terror to stay in power, after he visited a museum Saturday that documents the abuses of communism and fascism in Hungary.

Dole made the warning at the House of Terror, a museum housed in a building used by both Nazi and communist secret police to torture opponents of their regimes.

"Communism and fascism should have a museum like this in every country," Dole told The Associated Press. "If we forget the past, we face the future at our own risk."

Dole, a former senator from Kansas and the 1996 Republican presidential candidate, saw the tiny basement cells where victims of the two regimes were tortured and then executed. He showed great interest in the section of the museum devoted to the 1956 Hungarian revolution against Soviet domination.

"I am of that generation that can appreciate and remember what happened then," Dole said. "I remember the names of the people involved and neither then nor now can I understand why the United States did not do more to help the Hungarians."

The revolution was quashed by Soviet tanks after only 12 days, leaving several thousand people dead. Nearly 300 more were executed in reprisals by the communist authorities after the revolution.

During World War II, Hungarian Nazis seized control after German troops occupied the country in March 1944. Together they deported about 600,000 Hungarian Jews to their deaths in concentration camps.

The communists came to power with the backing of the Soviet army in 1948 and controlled the country until 1990.

Museum Director Maria Schmidt described to Dole how one in three Hungarians suffered abuse by the secret police under the communist regime.

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