The following is an excerpt from a book – Postcards from Pannonia – co-authored by our Hungarian-American friend Aliz von Dioszeghy.
“When I first visited Hungary in 1989, right before the change in political systems, the people I saw on the street looked down-trodden. Clerks in shops were surly and unhelpful, service in restaurants was non-existent, and there were no flowers in window boxes, such as I saw in Austria and Germany, I really didn’t like it very much. By 2000, however, things were hopping. People were smiling and hopeful, buildings were being cleaned and repaired, clerks were nicer, and waiters were a little more willing to work for their tip. There were even window boxes! Once the promise of spring arrived, the windows started to be filled with red geraniums. Back then, only red geraniums were available. Happily, now you can get every type and color of geranium, but in 2000 red was still the only color. I don’t know why, although I suspect that people simply didn’t think about other possibilities. After years of shortages under the communist regime, they were accustomed to making do with what was available, and the shops didn’t offer a choice. Now that there is a little more money around, the shops have started to display not only different colors, but many different varietals of the common germanium. I would even say that here in Hungary there seems to be more of a choice in flowers than I would find in California! Hungarians have traditionally loved flowers and plants, and now that the possibilities seem to be endless, they are filling window boxes with colorful blooms.”
This short synopsis captures very vividly the destructive effects of “statism” on the average person living under the thumb of totalitarian rule. We have seen such contrasts ourselves as Diana and I have traveled through Europe and into the former captive states of the Soviet Union just a few years following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In a single day of driving on the autobahn from Berlin in the old East Germany, through the countryside of old East Germany and through West Germany to Hamburg, we saw what Aliz describes about Hungary. We saw countless examples, in the city and the country-side, of the grey colorless landscape of communism. We also saw, in that same day of driving, the beautiful homes, gardens, farms and flowers of the free West Germany.
The message? “It’s not mine – I don’t care!”
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free“ Ronald Reagan
Note: Aliz von Dioszeghy was born and raised in Californian and lived much of her adult life in the San Francisco Bay area until she and her husband Adam retired and moved to Adam’s native land of Hungary. Adam fled Hungary in 1956 as a result of the revolution against communist rule.
Don Johnson – July 2017