A béka segge alatt

Another look back at Budapest in 1956, from the New York Times, by way of Crooked Timber’s comments:

THE first time I saw deep joy on my father’s face — the kind that comes from within and which is a child’s most reassuring signal from a parent — was on Oct. 23, 1956. It was at Bem Square, on the right bank of the Danube, where thousands of students, a sprinkling of workers and even some young soldiers still in uniform had spontaneously gathered to hear the students’ list of demands for reform by Hungary’s Communist government.

I was holding tight to his hand when a woman appeared on the balcony of the Foreign Ministry, which faces the square, and waved the Hungarian tricolor. The hated Soviet hammer and sickle had been cut from the center. Thus was the symbol of the Hungarian revolution (and so many others still to come) born. When someone in the growing crowd brazenly shouted, “Ruszki haza!” — “Russians go home” — the revolution had its slogan, as well.

The post’s title is Hungarian for “under the frog,” which is the shorter version of an expression for when things are very bad. You’re under a frog’s butt at the bottom of a well, or simply under the frog.

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About Doug Merrill

Freelance journalist based in Tbilisi, following stints in Atlanta, Budapest, Munich, Warsaw and Washington. Worked for a German think tank, discovered it was incompatible with repaying US student loans. Spent two years in financial markets. Bicycled from Vilnius to Tallinn. Climbed highest mountains in two Alpine countries (the easy ones, though). American center-left, with strong yellow dog tendencies. Arrived in the Caucasus two weeks before its latest war.