House of Terror • Memento Park
September 2011 • The 20th century wasn't kind to Hungary. The country lost a lot of territory in World War I, then allied itself with the Nazis, who lost to the Soviets, who then imposed 45 years of repressive socialism, which included a brutal crackdown on a popular uprising. Like other nations that have gone through lengthy traumas (Cambodia, Bosnia, Vietnam, Laos), Hungary has packaged its dark history and invited tourists to spend and learn about it. The House of Terror is a museum located in a former headquarters of both the fascist and socialist secret police. Long on concept but a bit short on specifics (at least for English-only visitors), it's a haunted site that's been turned into an art piece. Memento Park, on the other hand, is a collection of art pieces that have been turned into a haunted site. The statuary stand like lonesome sentinels of socialist glory, now relegated to a shadeless field on the outskirts of Budapest. If there's any doubt about which system—capitalist or communist—won the fight, it can be settled in the gift shops.