i would not see the statues if they paid me, for i had to stare at them growing up in slovakia
yup, i can imagine that!
but they probably do seem intriguing for those who didn't have to stare at them.
yes ... i mean, it is
really double. on the one hand, as a foreign visitor you are well aware that these statues stand for a historic experience involving great grief, (state) crime and tragedy, not to mention a fair share of sheer dreariness. on the other hand they are indeed a bit of a curiosum, not quite picturesque but definitely intrigueing.
in that sense i think the 'solution' of the budapest statue park is cool. by dumping them all together - in sometimes arbitrary seeming, sometimes distinctly mocking-seeming manner - in a park on the edge of town, the legacy they represent has quite demonstratively been put on the garbage heap of history. yet they are still there - the historic experience they evoke hasnt been erased from the city landscape. they are still there to see and ponder, whether it is a pondering in wonder, as western visitor, in commemoration, as someone aware of the crimes of communism, or even in sentimental nostalgia, as there seem to be groups of older hungarians going there in some kind of tribute, too (the visitorsbook recorded a group of may day visitors from the "senior citizens club of ujpest neighbourhood 13", or something like that).
it feels right that there is a park allowing all of that. some kind of inventive compromise between petersburg, where (back in 95, at least), lenin was still in the mayor's front garden and towering over the finland station, and east-berlin, where both the lenins and the wall (barring the tiniest remnant) have literally been shredded - as if they were never there.
the park also did make me think. not just because of seeing the different reactions it provoked, but also because there's all sorts there, of statues i mean. there was one statue depicting the republican fighters in the spanish civil war. that gave me a start, to find that one dumped too. makes you think about the meaning of images across cultures. b/c to me, the republicans were freedom fighters. the in majority anarcho-syndicalist republicans did fight the good fight, after all, against franco's fascists, even if they were stabbed in the back by the minority of soviet-steered communists agitating among them. but to the average hungarian, i'm sure the statue (which of course mentions nothing about the strife among the republicans) was just one more propaganda piece they were forced to look at every day by party order, like at the red star alight on top of the parliament building.
i just came back from vienna. turns out vienna is one of two remaining cities in the world - the other is his georgian place of birth - where there is still a plaque commemorating stalin. on the house where he once lived, for half a year, in 1913 or something (trotsky, hitler and stalin all lived in vienna at the time, actually - it was the only time stalin ever went abroad, barring the potsdam and teheran summits).
apparently, when the soviets withdrew from vienna, they made the austrian government sign a state treaty, in which one minor provision was that the latter would gaurantee the safety of the monument to the soviet soldiers - and the stalin plaque. after it was paintbombed and literally shot at, austrian policemen were stationed to guard it - for three years
. later on, the soviets actually wanted it off, but the austrian government nervously insisted on sticking to the letter of the law. now, the owner of the building says he abhors stalin as much as anyone, but "its part of [the history of] this house", and it does no harm.
i like the argument of respecting a place's history, whether we like it or not - after all, how many great war criminals are not honored in many a European capital's monument. in amsterdam, there was once a stalinallee. i wouldnt mind a sign reminding you of that, simply because to realise that is just flabbergasting, and sure makes you think. still, how far do you go in 'respecting history', considering the sheer number of 'monuments' the communists left scattered across eastern europe's towns and the bad memories they evoke for many?
but the key element, in any case, in the owner's shrgging statement, i guess is the second one, about it "not doing harm". stalinism is no danger anymore in austria - in fact, communism itself has become something of folklore in western europe, so a plaque can be looked at as a mere historical artefact - whereas a plaque commemoraring hitler's death would be politically much more problematic. the same wouldnt go for romania, though, i'm sure.
lots of interesting questions involved, in any case ;-).