Save Hungary's Archives

Επιστολή της ΕΑΕ προς στον Πρέσβη της Ουγγαρίας στην Αθήνα

Φεβρουάριος 2011

Κείμενο επιστολής


Dear Mr Tóth:

I am writing you on behalf of the Society of Greek Archivists (SGA), to express our deep concern for the Hungarian government’s decision to introduce legislation that would permit the removal and destruction of Hungarian communist secret police, interior ministry and state security files currently held at the Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security in Budapest.

Established in 1990, and a member of the International Congress on Archives (ICA), the SGA is the nationwide professional organization representing archivists in Greece. One of the fundamental notions of our profession is that archives are the basis of democracy, social justice and social memory.

We strongly oppose the concept that a democratic state cannot “preserve the immoral documents of an immoral regime”. On the contrary, we point out that records providing evidence of injustice hold accountable those responsible for any abuse of trust and power. Archival records provide evidence, by documenting the actions of public leaders, and protecting the rights of all citizens.

In Greece, we experienced a similar situation in the past: back in 1989, 40 years after the end of our civil war and 15 years after the fall of the colonels’ dictatorship, the Greek government decided to destroy the police security files, “to symbolically end an era of national disunity and guarantee a future of equality and egalitarianism among citizens”. Since then, an important part of our history, based on evidence concerning the involvement of the Greek people in the resistance during the German Occupation, the five years of civil war and the seven years of dictatorship (1967-1974), is for ever lost.

Removing documents from the Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security because they are deemed to have been created by “immoral” authorities would only erase forever their “immoral” acts, together with the “moral” actions of the Hungarian people during the given period, and would thus undermine a fundamental pillar of democracy. Preserving the aforementioned archival material supports an accurate account of the past and ensures that collective and, even worst, selective amnesia do not prevail.

The Society of Greek Archivists believes that the Hungarian communist secret police, interior ministry, and state security files currently held at the Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security have enduring value as reliable memories of the past. We urge the government of Hungary to take all steps consistent with professional archival practice to preserve these unique and important records. Anything less is an abdication of your government’s responsibility to uphold democratic values and to preserve and protect Hungary’s collective memory.


Seeing the fallacy of the Greek government on this issue, we recommend you do not commit the same unfairness towards the citizens of Hungary: people write history, they do not erase it.

Yours Sincerely,

Nestor Bamidis, President Society of Greek Archivists