Well, another round of fun and games, but by 9:00 p.m. it was all over. However, considering that the demonstrations began at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, the upheaval lasted five solid hours.
The antifascists (about 3,000 of them) had an hour-long demonstration, leaving by 5:00 after listening to a poetry reading and speeches by Gerhardt Schröder, the former German chancellor who happened to be in Budapest. Ferenc Gyurcsány was present but didn’t speak. Schröder and Gyurcsány were the heroes of the hour; apparently Gyurcsány was greeted by a three-minute-long applause when he arrived. Schröder told the crowd that when he warns about the neo-nazi danger he knows whereof he speaks; after all, he is a German. The poets chosen for the occasion, by the way, were Miklós Radnóti and Attila József. Radnóti, while serving in a labor batallion, was shot dead by a German soldier in November 1944. Attila József, perhaps the greatest Hungarian poet, committed suicide in 1937. Rounding out the peaceful demonstration, the antifascists sang the national anthem and went home.
The right wingers gathered elsewhere. They were about 1,000 strong and considerably less peaceful than the other group. No poetry here. No star quality. But lots of sound and fury. They kept yelling: "Rotten communists! Filthy Jews!" Echoing the past, they seemed to think that they owned the night and so were intent on continuing the demonstration. Tomcat directed them toward Parliament, to the by now infamous Kossuth tér. There some of them broke through the cordon surrounding the monument remembering the Soviet soldiers who died during the storming of the city in 1944-45. The monument is under constant threat by those who consider the Soviet liberation of the country from German occupation nothing more than a change in the identity of the occupier. For some time now these groups insist that the monument should be taken down or at least put somewhere less visible. However, such a move, even if the Hungarian government is favorably inclined, would cause international complications that Hungary certainly doesn’t need at this point.
Anyway, the activists, as usual covering their faces, trampled on the wreaths at the base of the monument, threw beer cans at the police, and behaved in a manner all too familiar by now. And the police, true to script, just stood by and suffered the abuse. Although the neo-nazis planned to have a "Return of the Kossuth tér!" nothing of the sort happened. First of all, by the time the crowd got to the parliament building there were only about 300-400 people. Also, the police finally managed to push them out of the square. So Tomcat urged his followers to go to the Elizabeth Bridge, another memorable place for this crowd: György Budaházy’s first attempt at "civil disobedience" in the summer of 2002 after the claim that the socialist-liberal side cheated on the elections. (A really interesting suggestion considering that it was the Orbán government that was running the elections and Orbán’s minister of the interior reported them to be entirely unproblematic.) Well, they never managed to get to the bridge. First of all, about 80 of them got lost! (Perhaps they were not from Budapest.) Second, by the time they got to the Adam Clark Square, the police had had enough and started arresting the leading characters: first, Tomcat, then Budaházy, and finally László Gonda.
This Gonda is an interesting character. I think he is an engineer who lived for a number of years in Germany. Gonda is outright intellectual looking. He is soft-spoken and polite. He used to phone György Bolgár’s talk show but nobody, including Bolgár, knew at that time who László Gonda was. This intellectual-looking, soft-spoken character can be seen on one of the pictures taken at today’s demonstration showing the finger to the "filthy communists and Jews." Incongruous.