It is with genuine concern for the future of academic freedom in Hungary that we have learned about the forced closure of the 56-Institute, a historical research institute on the 1956 Hungarian revolution headed by Dr János Rainer. This action is continuing a series of illegitimate and regressive measures taken by the Orbán government over the last few years to impose state control over scholarly intuitions and reduce the freedom for scholarly enquiry and teaching. The 56-Institute is going to be incorporated into the Veritas Historical Research Institute, which was only recently established and is closely aligned with the historical views of the current political leadership. On behalf of the BASEES membership, I would like to express our firm solidarity with Dr János Rainer and all members of the Institute. Dr Rainer bravely took part in the BASEES regional conference in Hungary in December 2016 in a climate of increasing government interference into academia in Hungary. Two years later, he took part in an inspiring keynote panel on ‘Remembering and Forgetting the post-war revolutions in Eastern Europe’ at the BASEES 2018 Annual Conference. Our message to our colleagues at the 56-Institute is that BASEES will continue to give them a warm welcome at our conferences, where they will have unconstrained opportunities to engage in critical discourse on all aspects of the historical study of the 1956 Hungarian revolution and its legacy.
Dr Matthias Neumann