Vienna, 13 October 2006 Press release

Plassnik: "Universal language of pictures - today's generation should continue to work on European peace project"


Foreign Minister on the opening of Erich Lessing's exhibition "Budapest 1956. The Hungarian Revolution"

Vienna, 12 October 2006 - "The Hungarian fight for freedom was one of the dramatic events which make developments in the more recent history of our continent more accessible and understandable. From today's viewpoint the courageous fight of all Hungarians for freedom and democracy and against suppression and control by foreign powers was an important step towards European reunification in freedom," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik at the opening of an exhibition at the Leopold Museum, entitled "Budapest 1956. The Hungarian Revolution". To mark the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Hungarian uprising in 1956 the Leopold Museum is showing an exhibition of around 100 pictures taken by the photographer Erich Lessing

The events in autumn 1956 had decisive implications for Austria's identity, continued the Foreign Minister. "Our country, which had been predicted a bleak future in spite of the State Treaty and its neutrality, proved its worth in both humanitarian and political terms. The country's young neutrality passed its first test. The Austrian Armed Forces, which had just been established, mastered their first border mission. Those who had misunderstood Austria's new neutrality as a mandate to close their eyes were taught otherwise," added the Foreign Minister, thanking all those who had helped in this situation and "who had made such a fundamental contribution to Austria's humanitarian and political self-image by practising solidarity."

Erich Lessing's works were highly condensed witnesses of their time, depicting the decisive moments of the people's uprising between passion and sorrow, between power and powerlessness. The universal language of these pictures, showing "these days of pain, trials and tribulations", hinted at the task facing today's generation which has the privilege of living freely in this Europe on its path towards reunification, namely the continuation of the consistent work on the European peace project and the reunification of the continent.

The Foreign Minister referred to the specific good neighbourly relations between Austria and Hungary, which today made it possible for both partners to cooperate more closely than anybody could have imagined in 1956 and during the subsequent decades. "I am especially impressed by the fact that this cooperation works in both countries and at all levels - governmental, economic, cultural and social - and that it is characterised by impressive continuity, no matter what the respective domestic political situation may be," concluded the Foreign Minister.

The full text of Foreign Minister Plassnik's speech can be accessed on the homepage of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs at

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