Freedom: The Flag with the Famous Hole

October 23 is a national holiday in Hungary. On this day, Hungarians commemorate the 1956 uprising against Soviet domination which was led by students who wanted to change the political system. When the Soviet Union occupied Hungary after WWII and the Soviet-backed Hungarian communists won the election, the Soviet Union placed a new coat of arms with a communist red star and hammer on the Hungarian flag.

Flagwithhole1On October 23, 1956 Hungarians gathered in Budapest to show support for the anti-Soviet protest in Poznan, Poland. The Hungarian demonstration grew and grew until it shifted from showing support for the Poles to an expression of non-support for the Soviets. At sometime during the demonstration, someone cut the Soviet-imposed emblem out of the Hungarian flag. The Flag-with-the-Hole became one of the most indelible images of the 1956 Revolution and today stands as a powerful symbol for freedom. Do you or your family have a remembrance of ’56? If so, please share.

12 thoughts on “Freedom: The Flag with the Famous Hole

  1. Thank you for all your thoughtful and informative blogs. Keep up the good work! Waiting with anticipation to see Hungary through the eyes of an American.

  2. I never knew what the hole in the mode of the flag meant. This makes o much more sense now that you explained it! I remember seeing an illustration of the flag this way on the cover of a book, that my brothers read when we were younger. I think it was called The Fall of the Red Star! Thanks for this post!

  3. It was momentous in my life…I was 7 months old during the revolution and my life was changed forever as an outcome of this uprising. My parents were part of the large group of people who escaped to freedom and carried me across the border with them. Easy in saying just crossing the border…in reality it was much more dangerous and harrowing than that. I owe my freedom to the sacrifices made by all those brave Magyar people!

  4. Many members of my family were affected by that momentous event; My father, uncle, brother-in-law, cousins all came out via escapes from Hungary. A part of my history I hope no one will ever forget…

  5. And pls don’t forget to mention, that Hungarian rebel groups asked for help from USA, but it seemed USA didn’t wanna get involved in a confilct against Soviet Union… and we didn’t have any oil… so we were not a very important country to save. It seems America is only the knight of freedom when it matches the country’s interest……

  6. In 1956 I was 12 years old. I used to listen to short-wave radio on a huge old ex-RAF radio. I heard the urgent pleas in English from Budapest, begging western nations to come and help them as we had promised. At the time I didn’t understand what was happening. Now I’ve been living in Hungary since 1996. I’ve found that in 1956 we in the West were too afraid of the USSR and too busy with the Suez Canal affair to keep our promises. I have apologised to Hungarians for this on many occasions, and they have graciously accepted the apology.

  7. I was a three and a half year old child on this day. My father came home to tell my mother that we would need to flee if the freedom fighters failed. I remember the fear, listening to the radio, and the utter terror of our ultimate escape. My family consisted of my Dad, Mom, my nine year old brother and myself. We lived in Budapest in an apartment building that had a central courtyard. Many people saying tearful goodbyes inside the gate, and outside it was frightening. The Russians left the bodies that were mown down for all to see as an example. We traveled by car, train, on foot all night, by horse and cart. It was cold, wet and the farm fields were thick with mud. I remember the pitch black darkness, and then the searchlights and gun fire.
    In the early dawn a farmer was begged for assistance as we were lost close to the border. He was afraid to help us! We finally saw the barbed wire fence that was cut in many places and walked into Austria. A red cross on a vehicle came to our rescue and took us to a makeshift refugee camp. My mother cried for days. Richard Nixon came to see the camps and spoke to us. My father shook his hand. We were granted entrance to immigrate to the USA and traveled on Christmas Eve. It was very emotional. We arrived in the USA for Christmas and were greeted by soldiers with chocolate bars. I thought America was heaven!

    • It seems there was once another symbol in the flag, that of a crown with a bent cross. Why was that removed? Our family always flies that particular flag at family reunions.

  8. I was two years old and I still have pictures in my mind of the border crossing… I don’t remember the fear, only the noises and the dark with lights in the distance, dogs barking and geese sounding their alarm at the passing of our little group of people. And the wind in the pines, the whispering of the wind… Like people talking. Although I have heard the story of our crossing many times, the pictures I have are those seen through the eyes of a little child, we ended up in Nishkabanya in a Hotel that the Yugoslav Government put at the disposition of Hungarian Refugees. I remember my mother, a scarf on her head, washing clothes in a green room, paint was peeling off the pipes running across the ceiling. When I asked her about this memory, she told me it was the laundry room in the Hotel.

    As Attila says, easy to say crossing the border, not easy to do. Imagine trying to keep a child of two quiet! Actually I was terrified and the only thing I said, over and over, was ”Fàzik a cipöm!” (my shoes are cold). I travelled piggy back style, on the back of my cousin and my mom and when they crossed under the barbed wires, my coat got caught and I spent a couple of seconds dangling between hell and freedom until they could free me without tearing my clothes. Three days before our crossing, on that very same spot, 15 people, adults and children were gunned down.

    Many lives were changed forever on that day, many lives were lost to save the lives of others If today we live free, it’s thanks to the people who were not afraid to stand up for their rights and to our parents who left everything behind in order to find a better world for their children. We should be forever grateful to them. And be proud of our flag with the hole in the middle!

    Áldott legyen bárhol is él,
    Minden igaz Magyar,
    Angyal kísérje lépteit,
    ki szózatot szaval.
    Áldott legyen mindörökre,
    E vérrel szentelt föld,
    Áldott legyen minden időkben,
    A piros fehér zöld

  9. Hi. This is an old post but I just came acrossed it and was wondering if I could get some info. My husband’s dad was from hungry and came to America from Budapest in 1956 I believe. My husband was born in American and was with his dad for a time but was later put in foster care. He’s dad has since passed away. I was wondering if there was any sort of paper trail with names of people you came to America. It would be nice to get a copy for my husband if there was.

    Thank you for any help you might have.


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