The Life of an Agent

We visited Memento Park a few days ago, just outside of Budapest. It's a graveyard for monuments of Hungary's Soviet-occupied era (mid-40's to late 80's). One of my favorites is the one above, all that's left of an enormous likeness of Stalin. The rest of him was sawed down by protesters during the 1956 uprising.

Of no less interest was this interactive exhibit you could climb inside of; a real-life Trabant, a.k.a "The People's Car". This East German product was virtually the only car on the road when I visited Hungary in 1990. Now it's obsolete, presumably because of its shameful emissions; It put out nearly ten times as many hydrocarbons as the average European car, due to its two cylinder, two stroke engine. The shell was made of resin and recycled cotton.

In a small indoor exhibit era they screened this fascinating compilation of films, made between the 40's and the 70's, specifically to train members of Hungary's secret police: : how to interrogate, tap phone lines, photograph suspects, break into their homes to collect supposed evidence... unconscionable actions, treated like an ordinary matter of course.

On a related note, the House of Terror is a fantastic place to visit in Budapest. located in the actual building that housed HQ and prisons / torture chambers for the Nazis (Hungary was an axis country) as well as the Communists, it's an engrossing and terrifying subject, told in some of the best exhibit design I've seen.

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