Erich Lessing - The Hungarian Revolution of 1956

In 1956 Erich Lessing (Austria, b. 1923), then already a two year member of Magnum, photographed the Hungarian revolution in the streets of Budapest, unintentionally producing an important historical document. This year it has been fifty years since the revolt. To mark this occasion the Budapest photo series is scheduled for an international tour, wich launches at the Noorderlicht Photogallery.

Introduction
Budapest 1956. The 1956 Hungarian Revolution, was an anti-Soviet revolt in Hungary lasting from 23 October to 4 November 1956. The revolt was suppressed by Soviet troops, and to a much smaller degree the Hungarian ÁVH ('State Protection Authority'). Anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 Hungarian rebels and 7,000 Soviet troops were killed, thousands more were wounded, and nearly a quarter of a million left the country as refugees.The beginning of the deStalinisation period in Hungary favoured the development of an opposition movement, particularly among students and intellectuals. Imre NAGY who was called in as Prime Minister had obtained the demand of Soviet troops being withdrawn. He became submerged by the spread of the insurrectional movement in Budapest and the provinces. Abolishing the 'unique' party system on the 13th October 1956 he demanded Hungary's withdrawal of the Warsaw Pact and neutrality. Armed insurrection started in the streets on 24th October until the Soviet troops occupied Budapest, on the 1st November 1956, and crushed the movement.

The Exhibition Tour
Hoover Institution at Stanford University, CaliforniaThe UCA UniversityLeopold Museum, Vienna, AustriaAnd various other venues in Hungary, France and Italy

A book of images accompanying this exhibition, 'The Hungarian Revolution', is due to be published in the fall of 2006 by Thames and Hudson with an introduction by George Conrad (Konrad Gyorgy), in an edition of 15,000, in four languages.

 



Erich Lessing
Austrian b. 1923 Born in Austria, Erich Lessing emigrated to Palestine and studied at Haifa's Technical College, first raising fish on a kibbutz then working as a soldier and taxi driver while learning photography on his own. From 1939-45 Lessing served in the Sixth Airborne Division of the British Army as an aviator and photographer and returned to Vienna in 1947. He worked as a reporter and photographer for the Associated Press and was invited into Magnum by David Seymour, one of the founders, whom he had met in Strasbourg in 1950 while they photographed the first meeting of the Council of Europe. Lessing became a full member of Magnum in 1954 and continued to work as a photojournalist until 1970, covering political events in North Africa (e.g., De Gaulle in Algiers) and in Europe, and reporting on the onset of the Communist period in Eastern Europe for Life, Epoca, Picture Post, Paris-Match. His pictures of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution are notable as a record of a popular uprising and street fighting with tanks in this city with a by-standing population.

The prime minister obtained the withdrawl of soviet troops. Until the soviet troops reoccupied budapest on the 1st November.

Lessing, who lives in Vienna, has taught numerous workshops in Europe and has received prestigious awards such as the French Prix Nadar. He is a member of UNESCO's International Committee of Museums.

Partial Bibliography
Szene: ein Bildwerk über die Staatsoper und das Burgtheater, 1954 Imago Austriae, 1963 Die Odyssee, 1965 Discoverers of Space: A Pictorial Narration, 1967 The Story of Noah Told in Photographs, 1968 History of France, 1989 Egypte, 1989 Erich Lessing: Photographie: Die erste 50 Jahre (The First 50 Years), 1994 Pompeii, 1996 Florence and the Renaissance, 1997 The Gods of Ancient Egypt, 1998


Opening Friday May 12 5.00 pm by mr. Hubert Smeets, chief editor of De Groene Amsterdammer.

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