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The Revolution in the Photographs of Erich Lessing
Budapest: 1956-os Intézet, 2006

The world’s eyes were on Budapest in the autumn of 1956. The Hungarian Revolution, the uprising of the Hungarian people against the Soviet-type system imposed on them caused surprise and brought hope all over the world. Hope that this revolution of human dignity had a chance even against the oppressive force of a superpower. The uprising failed, but its moral example remained in people’s memories.

Memory arranges events in pictures. Erich Lessing was a photo reporter on the staff of the Magnum agency in Paris, visiting Budapest for the first time in the autumn of 1956.

Lessing’s shots tell a complete, rounded tale. The pictures show only a seemingly peaceful Hungary before the revolution, Hungarian society at the moment it believed in victory, and the city and its inhabitants preparing for survival after defeat. They show the bright lights of the autumn of 1956 and its dark shadows. Lessing’s tableau forms a unique, full visual of Budapest in the autumn of 1956.

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Copyright © 2000 National Széchényi Library 1956 Institute and Oral History Archive
Last updated:  Wednesday, 22-November-2006

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