___Budapest, ’56 and Beyond___Vissza

Budapest, ’56 and Beyond. History and Memory of the 1st Crisis of Communism (International Conference)
September 28-29, 2006
St. Petersburg, Russia


Goals and Objectives of the Conference

The year 2006 marks the 50th anniversary of the tragic events of 1956 in Hungary. Despite the passing of half a century, the historical memory of the Soviet past as well as the Budapest uprising in 1956 remains an important and topical issue for scholars- and not only for those who come from the countries of the former Eastern Bloc. Unfortunately, the trend toward historical amnesia concerning the totalitarian aspects of the Soviet past in contemporary Russian national consciousness has had a negative influence on relations between Russia and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Many in those states still harbor some resentment toward Russia as the successor of the Soviet Union. Thus, it is the task of intellectuals, above all Russian intellectuals, to take the initiative of reinterpreting the past in order to overcome the resentment, which blocks the understanding of the present situation.

Within the framework of its scholarly and teaching activities, Smolny College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has been revisiting this subject. Thus, in 2001, a conference „Responsibility of Intellectuals: Arts, Ideology, Memory in the 20th Century” was held – a conference about the influence of temptations facing totalitarian regimes. We have paid special attention to those subjects in our teaching as well, both in the context of history and modern historical memory. Some of the courses recently taught at Smolny include: „To Live under Communism,” „Soviet Music as a Cultural-Historical Phenomenon,” „Modernism and Conservatism in German Art in the 1930-50s: The Third Reich and Adenauer’s Germany,” and „Why Do I Hate You: Nationalism in Central and Eastern Europe.”

Conference Structure

The conference will last two days and will consist of three main parts.

A keynote address by a participant of the uprising shall launch the conference.

In the first part we shall conduct a general analysis of the events after Stalin’s death in order to understand what consequences it had for the internal situation in the USSR and in the other countries of the socialist bloc. A wide scope of issues will be examined: the Berlin crisis of 1953, Nikita Khrushchev’s secret speech, the perception of the speech in the West, and its influence upon the international communist movement.

The second part will be devoted to the Hungarian uprising of 1956, as well as the so-called „Events of Poznań” in Poland that same year. We shall pay special attention to the chronology of events, the testimonies of the contemporaries, the reactions of the world community, the USSR, and other socialist countries, and the measures that followed the suppression of the uprising.

Finally, in the third part we would like to discuss the role of the issues above in historical memory and analyze the perception of the Hungarian events in Central and Eastern European countries in the present. We would also like to discuss how contemporary historiography addresses 56 and what we think about its role in the history of the short twentieth century. Finally, a comparison of historical memories about the Soviet past in modern Russian society and in former socialist countries should open new research agendas and create a ground for future dialogue and understanding.

Since, as is our custom, we want this to be an event not just for a narrow circle of initiated specialists, but an open event that our students and the general public could also participate in, we want to go beyond the media of the spoken word. Thus, the individual presentations and roundtables will be accompanied by a photo exhibition about the events of 1956 and screenings of films (both documentaries and feature films) related to the revolution. The 1956 Research Institute, the State Committee for the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the 1956 Revolution and the Open Society Archives of Budapest are kindly helping us with documents.


Conference participants

The conference aims to bring together academics from Hungary, Poland, other countries, as well as Russian scholars, as presenters and panelists.

Conference materials will be published in a special issue of the journal „Collegium” published by Smolny College.


Call for proposals

Proposals for short conference papers and presentations relating to the topics discussed above are welcome.

Please submit the title of your proposal, as well as and biographical information, by June 15, 2006, in either English or Russian, the working languages of the conference.  Paper proposals may be sent electronically, in the form of a Word document, or by regular mail to the following address:

Lieutenant Schmidt Embankment 11, St. Petersburg, 199034, Russia

e-mail: e_fofanova@smolny.org


A limited number of travel and accommodation grants for presenting participants whose institution does not cover such participation may be available. If you want to be considered for that, please indicate that in your letter or e-mail.

For any additional information, please, contact Elena Fofanova, Smolny Collegium Assistant:

Tel.: +7 (812) 320 68 58

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Copyright © 2000 National Széchényi Library 1956 Institute and Oral History Archive
Utolsó módosítás:  2006. szeptember 2. szombat

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