Folia historica 23/1

I. Tanulmányok - Baják László: A Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum égése 1956-ban

The fire of the Hungarain National Museum in 1956 /precis/ The Hungarian National Museum suffered tragic consequences in the events of 1956. During the fights irretrievable damages occured in the building itself and especially in the collections of the Museum of Natural Sciences. The history of the devastation can be learnt from a source not consulted so far. The documentation section of the Hungarian National Museum preserves a typescript titled "Description of the Cases of Fire and the Operation of the Fire Brigade during the Period of Emergency (23 r d October 1956-10 1' 1 November 1956)", which was written for the Fire-Regulation Headquarters of the Ministry of Internal Affairs soon after the events. Due to the features of the genre, this is an accurate, objective and profes­sional description, the most extended part of which - perhaps not accidentally - is about the fire of the Hungarian National Museum. The Museum was in the centre of the events from the outset due to the proximity of the Hungarian Radio Broadcasting Company, as the armed conflict started with the siege of the Radio in the evening 23 1x 1 October. It is a little-known fact that outside the Radio not only the State Security Authorities and the army but the fire brigade also went into action against the demonstrating masses, although of no effect either. The Soviet troops reached the capital by the dawn of 24 1' 1 October but they did not occupy the museum, as then they did not meet any resistance there. Later, however, those few rebels who broke into the museum were shot down by Soviet tanks. Two rooms looking onto Mu­seum Street caught fire, despite some reminiscences, only late in the morning, but the fire was managed to be put out. The other fire to flame up in the evening of the 24 1' 1 could not be approached by the fire brigade in time because of the vehement fights, and the extinguishing procedure was stopped several times by the Soviets. The fire flamed up again for the third time late in the afternoon of the 25 l'\ which could only be put out by the next afternoon. In the almost two-day-long fire a part of the roof trussing, the Stone and Mineral Collection, the Fossil Collection and the exhibition displaying the fauna of Africa were destroyed. 65