Bridging the Divide
Canadian and Hungarian stories of the 1956 revolution
They are stories of euphoria and disappointment, heroism and foolishness, togetherness and separation. Bridging the Divide is a mosaic of vividly crafted memories of Hungary's revolution of 1956. Based on oral-history recollections of those who lived the tumultuous events, the publication is the result of interviews conducted throughout Canada and Hungary of fifteen family pairs who ended up living separated over the following half century.
"The stories evoke the pain of separation, and the spontaneous yet momentous decisions that people made," says author and publisher Andrew Princz of ontheglobe.com, "I hope that these personal stories will have an impact on youth both in Hungary and Canada, giving them a personal take on history."
The project, marking the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian revolution, is an attempt to bridge the continental divide that the upheavals of 1956 caused. "Perhaps these vivid accounts will help the young generation to understand how revolutions are not simply political events, but how deeply they affect people’s lives, families and destinies."
A multitude of perspectives
Bridging the Divide presents compelling the stories of emigration from a variety of perspectives and backgrounds. From an intellectual in the capital who in 1956 questioned communist-rule, to an agricultural worker in a village who became a revolutionary despite his own intentions. There were those who approached the revolution as an adventure of youth, while others acted on their patriotic beliefs. Family pairs also presented objects, archival photographs or other period mementos to illustrate their stories.
While some left their country by choice, others were forced to flee from persecution. Some in the sampling were freedom fighters, while others became involved accidentally during the confused days of revolt. The publication brings together mothers and sons, cousins and siblings who became separated by thousands of kilometers, some who did not see each other for decades. One individual was afraid of flying, while another - in love - left on an adventure of youth, while another considered his career options before setting off on his journey.
"What became clear in hearing the stories was just how spontaneous the events were," says the author, "People had to make decisions in a split second that would change the course of their lives."
Through oral-history based stories, Bridging the Divide enables the reader to attain a wider level of understanding of the confused events of October 1956, their root causes, and how they impacted the lives of persons from all social and economic backgrounds. This project brings together family pairs and after decades, puts them on the same podium, telling their tales in the form of short stories.
Interviews in Canada and Hungary
Bridging the Divide was put together based on a series of interviews conducted both in Canada, and Hungary in the spring of 2006. Canadian-Hungarian journalist Andrew Princz and Hungarian photographer Katalin Sándor traveled to Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria to interview those who fled Hungary as a result of the October revolution. The team subsequently interviewed family members who remained in Hungary after the revolution.
These are the stories of just some of the 38,000 refugees immigrated to Canada from Hungary as a result of the 1956 revolution. After their arrival, they took great pains to learn a new language and contribute to the fabric of the cultural mosaic that is Canada. In the meantime in Hungary their families remained - sometimes suffering consequences of their relative's migration. Many families remained divided for years.
Bridging the Divide is distributed in Hungary by Líra és Lant, Libri and Alexandra bookstores. The publication is distributed in Canada by Penumbra Press.
The complete text of Bridging the Divide – in English and Hungarian - is available on-line for educators at the following website:
IN THEIR WORDS...
"A series of emotional experiences, recorded and related in an honest manner, reflecting both the pain and the joy which people felt at leaving their homeland, their family and friends, and discovering for themselves a new life in Canada. The reflections of brothers, sisters, cousins and other family members who remained in Hungary adds an unusual and interesting element, not often found in popularized accounts of 1956 émigrés."
Bob Dent, author of Budapest 1956 - Locations of Drama in The Budapest Times
"I recommend this book to youth, particularly because it is a dual-language publication, which makes it an especially useful read. It is also illustrated with very beautiful images."
Henrik Havas, Mokka
"The subject of this investigation, the stories of the 1956 emigrants and their family members whom they left behind, is far from customary... That we truly have a need for stories of individual fates was demonstrated by the disturbances that took place during the commemorations of the revolution. More and more people have discovered that the past is far from being black and white."
Roland Borsos in Magyar Hirlap
Bridging the Divide
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